The serious shortage of senior specialists and nurses in the health service will not be addressed by the latest pay offer, unions warned last night.
Many areas of the health service are crippled by a lack of specialist doctors and nurses, causing patient delays and adding to waiting lists.
Peter Hughes of the Psychiatric Nurses Association (PNA) said the offer of an extra €1,000 a year in 2016 and 2017 will not be enough to incentivise many nurses who are working abroad to return to Irish hospitals.
The Haddington Road agreement, with unpalatable elements such as the 39-hour week, remains in place, he pointed out.
"It is the start of the process of pay restoration but it is just the start," he added.
"There is a huge shortage of psychiatric nurses. There is a campaign to recruit nurses in the UK to work here. But in the UK they are earning around €6,000 more in the first point of the scale than our nurses."
The Irish Medical Organisation (IMO) also said it was "gravely concerned" about the outcome of the talks. Industrial relations officer Steve Tweed said that yesterday's agreement does nothing to address "the very real problem of retaining and recruiting suitably qualified doctors to our public health services".
Recent advertisements for child psychiatrists received no applicants. Adult psychiatrists also warned they are relying on locum doctors, with no training in mental health care, to provide emergency cover.
The IMO said that over past number of years doctors have been working in an environment of illegal working hours, unsafe conditions and reduced resources to treat patients.
The opportunity to recognise the efforts of our doctors in this agreement has been missed by the Government.
The consequence is that more will simply emigrate, he added.