Doctors group to snub talks on work practices
The main organisation representing hospital consultants is set to snub talks at the Labour Relations Commission (LRC) today aimed at getting them to change their work practices.
The Irish Hospital Consultants' Association (IHCA) is not expected to attend the talks with the Health Service Executive on a series of demands, including having them rostered on duty for longer days.
Health Minister James Reilly, who opted for the changes instead of a pay cut, warned yesterday his "patience is running out".
The other consultants' body, the Irish Medical Organisation (IMO), is due to attend the talks.
The consultants are earning more then €160,000 a year, in many cases for treating public patients. Many also top up their income with lucrative private practices running into hundreds of thousands of euro.
The IHCA insisted last night that it had been trying to get a response from the HSE "on points of fact" and it had responded through the LRC.
If the IHCA continues to snub the talks, the issue will be referred to the national implementation body, which can make a recommendation.
If the impasse persists, the doctors -- whose pay is protected by the Croke Park agreement -- could find themselves outside the terms of the deal.
The minister said he intended to discuss "further options" for dealing with the issue with Cabinet colleagues and the Attorney General.
"I don't want to be hurting those consultants who are delivering, while the ones who aren't delivering get away scot free."
He confirmed, however, that more health cuts are on the way.
Several hospitals are already reducing services including St Vincent's in Dublin, which has stopped accepting all new patients referred to its outpatient clinic for physiotherapy.