Thursday 14 November 2019

Hospital consultants to get pay-rises of up to €72k in windfall

  • It is understood that the deal will cost the State around €200m in retrospective payments
  • It will add €60m to the annual consultant pay bill in future
  • Irish Medical Organisation welcomed the settlement
  • Minister Paschal Donohoe speaking before agreement said decision 'needs to be fair and effective'
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Eilish O’Regan

Thousands of hospital consultants are to get a €200m back-money windfall.

It will mean pay rises of between €55,000 and €72,000.

Talks on the demand for back-money arising out of pay increases hospital consultants were promised but never received are understood to have reached settlement.

The back-money will be retrospective for up to six years, and will give them a pay increase of €20,000. The rest of the money will come when the back cuts imposed during austerity are unwound by 2022.

Around 700 consultants have lodged High Court claims but it will be extended to all doctors who signed up to a 2008 contract and were appointed before 2012.

It is understood that the deal will cost the State around €200m in retrospective payments, and will add €60m to the annual consultant pay bill in future.

The 700 consultants who have already lodged breach of contract cases in the courts will get back money of up to six years prior to the date of filing their legal claims some years ago.

The money will be paid in two tranches with the first 40pc coming early next year and the second by June 2020.

The extent of the pay rise depends on the type of contract a consultant has.

A consultant who works full time in public hospitals, with no fee-paying patients will see their salary increase from around €180,000 to €252,000.

Consultants who are allowed treat private patients in their public hospital will get a salary rise from €170,000 to €225,000.

The back pay will come along with the progressive unwinding of the financial emergency cuts in salaries which were brought in during the recession.

The Irish Medical Organisation welcomed the settlement and said it  has been a particularly divisive issue for the health services in Ireland.

"Consultants were effectively forced by Government to go to court to challenge the unilateral breaching of their contracts by the State.

"The same contract which the State itself had negotiated over a prolonged period of time."

Public Expenditure Minister Paschal Donohue said today the payout could have been much worse and said early estimates were that it could cost around €700m.

It means the taxpayer got a discount of more than 45pc while there was also a saving in court costs.

Health Minister Simon Harris claimed that part of the deal was an agreement  to ensure the consultants’ contract was not breached and they would not spend over their allotted time on fee-paying patients.

He is to write to the HSE about the proposal but could not say how it would work at this stage.

The doctors’ union said that while IMO welcomes the acknowledgement from the State of the breach we are extremely disappointed that, despite efforts by the IMO, that the settlement fails to address the gross injustice visited upon young consultants employed by the HSE since 2012.

"These consultants continue to suffer from the negative impact of the 30pc cut to Consultants appointed since 2012 and the additional cuts imposed and these Doctors are the only group in the public service who have been discriminated against to this degree.

"Nobody should be in any doubt that the State’s continued failure to deal with this issue is directly encouraging our young doctors to leave Ireland and practice their skills abroad in health services that value them and do not actively discriminate against them."

Meanwhile, the Irish Hospital Consultants Association have also welcomed the decision, saying it is "an important and essential development".

In a statement released to media this morning, Dr Tom Ryan said that during the negotiations both sides engaged and "took all reasonable steps to have the matter at hand resolved".

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