Sunday 27 May 2018

Nearly a decade on, the promised 'new era' has not materialised

Currently there are 684,800 patients are on public hospital waiting lists (stock photo)
Currently there are 684,800 patients are on public hospital waiting lists (stock photo)
Eilish O'Regan

Eilish O'Regan

When hospital consultants signed the dotted line in 2008 on their new contracts, which had taken years to negotiate, it was hailed as ushering in a new era for public patients.

But today 684,800 patients are on public hospital waiting lists and the promised benefits never fully materialised.

It was supposed to mean more consultants would work full-time treating public patients.But today they make up just a small minority of the publicly paid specialists.

They were supposed to work evenings, at weekends and also in teams.

There would be one outpatient waiting list for public and private patients. And one list for diagnostics.

Crucially, consultants were to be monitored to ensure they did not treat more private patients than their quota.

Any extra money they made would be paid into a fund.

Nearly a decade later, consultants are at war with the HSE because the salaries they were originally promised, of up to €240,000, were never paid in full.

The common waiting lists have still to be implemented, which allows for queue-jumping. A public patient can wait two years to see the same specialist a private patient can access in two weeks.

More doctors are switching contracts to allow them more access to private patients, and hundreds of vacancies are unfilled.

Irish Independent

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