HSE to appeal doctors' pay ruling with potential payout cost of €100m
The HSE is to appeal a tribunal decision on hospital consultants' pay which could potentially cost more than €100m if rolled out to all specialists.
The Employment Appeals Tribunal found in favour of retired consultants Thomas Hogan, a retired anaesthetist, and John McDermott, an endocrinologist, who had sought compensation for failure to pay them higher salaries under a contract agreed in 2008.
The promised salaries of €170,000 and €240,000 never materialised in full. However, the tribunal ruled the contract should have been honoured and awarded Mr Hogan €100,000 and Mr McDermott €14,000.
The HSE said it could not pay the full salaries at the time because the former Minister for Health, Mary Harney, would not sanction them.
Around 150 consultants are taking similar compensation cases to the High Court. If successful, the eventual bill would be in the region of €100m.
The decision is expected to result in a lengthy legal battle which could take years and end up in the Supreme Court.
Minister for Public Expenditure Brendan Howlin said yesterday that any liabilities would be met through negotiation.
This could potentially see the State attempt to strike a rate with the specialists in order to minimise the overall payout if it is felt the consultants have a stronger case. There are about 2,000 consultants who could potentially benefit from windfalls.
The decision was welcomed by the Irish Hospital Consultants Association, which is supporting the High Court actions.
The cuts were not part of the reductions in pay imposed across the public service in 2010 in order to reduce the State's pay bill.
Pay levels have been cited as one reason why hospitals here find it difficult to recruit doctors.