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All carrot and no stick for consultants - Ó Caoláin

1 September, 2006

Despite the fact that the renegotiation of their contract is five years overdue, hospital consultants who benefit financially from practice in both the private and public hospital systems are being treated to "all carrot and no stick", according to Sinn Féin Health spokesperson Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin TD. He was responding to comments from Health Service Executive chief Brendan Drumm who called for higher pay and bonuses for consultants.

Deputy Ó Caoláin also said that Government and HSE policy was "riddled with contradictions" with Professor Drumm calling for incentives to keep consultants in the public system while Minister Harney drives her privatisation agenda that subsidises private hospitals with public land and tax breaks. Deputy Ó Caoláin said:

"It is disgraceful that the renegotiation of the contract for hospital consultants is now five years overdue, having been promised in the 2001 Health Strategy in order to achieve greater equity for public patients. The Government has failed miserably to fulfil its commitment while the Irish Hospital Consultants Association (IHCA) has been allowed a total veto on progress.

"Quite rightly, the Health Service Executive has ceased appointing 'category two' consultants who earn around €3000 per week for 33 hours work in the public system - much of it delegated to junior doctors - while they are free to pursue their lucrative private practices. The IHCA is refusing to even enter talks unless the HSE continues to appoint to category two posts. This should not be tolerated by the HSE or the Government but it is all carrot and no stick as far as consultants are concerned.

"Government and HSE policy is riddled with contradictions. Professor Drumm calls for more incentives to keep consultants in the public system but Minister Harney's privatisation agenda is subsidising private hospitals with public land and tax breaks. These private hospitals will be a further magnet for consultants and will see the taxpayer and the public patient losing out once again.

"All public hospital consultant posts should be public only. Like all health workers these consultants should be generously remunerated but public money should only be spent on public services with equal access for all based on need alone."

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