Cash incentive to keep doctors in public system
The Government is considering paying hospital doctors more money to work in public hospitals as part of its plan to end the two-tier health system.
Removing private patients from public hospitals is a key plank of the Government's long-term strategy for reforming the healthcare system.
However, the Sláintecare plan has been met with resistance from health insurance companies and lobby groups representing doctors.
A major renegotiation of consultant contracts will be needed to ensure doctors are retained in the public system.
It is understood the Government is prepared to enter negotiations with consultants on new hospital contracts which would result in more pay and better conditions for senior medics.
Sources also said the Government is open to allowing doctors to work in private hospitals after they have completed their duties in the public system.
It is unclear what terms or how much money the Government is willing to offer consultants.
"You need to look at the consequences of decoupling public and private beds in terms of consultants' pay and their practices in a private hospital," a senior Government source said.
"If doctors want to work in a private hospital after they've done their public work that will probably be all right," the source added.
Health Minister Simon Harris has tasked Dr Donal de Buitléir with drafting an impact study on private care in public hospitals and this will form the basis of the Government's final decision.
Dr de Buitléir is due to report back to Mr Harris before the end of the year.
Mr Harris has said Ireland is one of the few countries in the world where private patients are seen by doctors working in public hospitals. Fianna Fáil and Sinn Féin have said they support separating private patients from public hospitals as agreed in the Sláintecare plan.