Written answers

Wednesday, 31 January 2007

Department of Health and Children

Consultant Contracts

8:00 am

Photo of M J NolanM J Nolan (Carlow-Kilkenny, Fianna Fail)
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Question 851: To ask the Minister for Health and Children the state of negotiations with hospital consultants with regard to a new contract; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [2280/07]

Photo of Mary HarneyMary Harney (Minister, Department of Health and Children; Dublin Mid West, Progressive Democrats)
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As the Deputy may be aware talks on a new contract commenced on 24 November 2005 under the independent chairmanship of Mr. Mark Connaughton SC. These talks were adjourned following the meeting on 9 February 2006.

In January 2006, management tabled a position paper outlining proposals on a new employment contract for consultants working in the public health system. These proposals include a public-only contract, 24/7 provision of services by consultants, a move from a consultant-led to a consultant-provided service, improved research, education and training, and greater accountability for consultants.

Talks resumed in November 2006 on the basis of a formula devised by the Chairman. Further documents were tabled by management. Difficulties were encountered, however, in these negotiations due to objections by the medical organisations to arrangements adopted by the Health Service Executive in relation to Category 2 Consultant appointments. Because of this, a further plenary meeting has not been convened.

The chairman has recently issued a report to the parties which conveys his opinion that in order for constructive talks to take place:

there should be an unequivocal agreement between the parties that there would be unconditional negotiations for a defined period of time;

an agreed agenda must be drawn up by the parties;

outline responses must be exchanged in writing between the parties on the various issues;

a mechanism must be established to deal with issues arising in relation to the current contract;

the parties should be represented by smaller teams;

confidentiality should be observed by all parties;

the framework within which any agreement could be concluded should be worked out in greater detail.

The chairman's report is currently receiving active consideration.

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