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Ó Caoláin - Government has failed to meet Health Strategy target on consultants' contracts

28 May, 2003


Sinn Féin Health spokesperson Caoimhghin Ó Caoláin TD has called on the Minister for Health and Children Micheál Martin TD to "take on the privileged position of consultants" in light of the Brennan report which highlights their powerful role within the health services. Deputy Ó Caoláin pointed out that the Government had failed to reach the target set out in the National Health Strategy for the conclusion of an agreement on a revised contract for hospital consultants.

He said there was "a stark contrast between the position of the hospital consultants and the unjust way the Government has treated the public health doctors currently in dispute".

Commenting on the report of the Brennan Commission, Deputy Ó Caoláin said:

"This study has once again identified the privileged position occupied by those consultants who manipulate the public health services to facilitate their private practice.

"In the National Health Strategy (Action 89) the Government promises that 'greater equity for public patients will be sought on a revised contract for hospital consultants'. This was to be achieved by agreement of a revised contract for hospital consultants by the end of 2002. The Government has missed this target. In January I tabled a Dáil question to the Minister for Health and Children asking when an agreement will be reached on a revised contract for hospital consultants. The Minister was unable to indicate when negotiations will conclude or even whether an agreement will be reached.

"Through their professional bodies the consultants have a veto on the deployment of their services throughout the health system. Too often their decisions are based on their sense of the career needs of their profession rather than on the healthcare needs of service users. This must change or else reform of the system will prove impossible.

"This report comes at the height of the public health doctors dispute. There is a stark contrast between the position of the hospital consultants and the unjust way the Government has treated the public health doctors who work solely in the public sector. With talks due to begin this Friday I urge the Minister for Health and Children Mícheál Martin to ensure that public health doctors get a fair deal." ENDS

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