Thursday, 17 December 2020
Department of Health
Hospital Consultant Contracts
563. To ask the Minister for Health if consideration will be given to awarding a consultant contract to existing specialists in public health medicine as per the recommendations of the Crowe Horwath report, the Scally report and the report of the Covid-19 nursing homes expert panel; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44305/20]
I am fully committed to delivering on the recommendations that were made for public health in the Crowe Horwath report. That report recognised the very important role that public health medicine plays in the health of our population and in how our health service is managed and delivered.
This Government and I have been very clear in our support for the creation of Consultant posts in Public Health Medicine. My Department, in conjunction with the HSE, have completed a substantial amount of work on a detailed framework for the future public health model that includes consultant level roles. A related business case seeking consultant status has been submitted to the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform for consideration and officials in both Departments are currently engaging in order to progress this as soon as possible.
This government is committed to investment in our public health workforce. Prior to the Covid-19 pandemic, there were 254 people working full-time across Ireland’s public health workforce. At the end of September, I announced ambitious plans to double this workforce by hiring more public health doctors, nurses, scientists and support staff. Recruitment for these positions commenced immediately and is progressing well.
The HSE’s Pandemic Workforce Plan also includes the recruitment of 400 temporary staff to Public Health Departments across the country in order to strengthen our response to the current pandemic.
The permanent resourcing committed in the workforce plan is an investment in the future service delivery model for Public Health, as envisaged in the 2018 Crowe Horwath Report.
564. To ask the Minister for Health if consideration will be given to implementing targeted measures to recruit and retain hospital consultants across all specialties to increase the number of consultant posts in line with the recommended ratios of the national clinical programmes and the postgraduate training bodies and to address the shortage of hospital consultants in Ireland in comparison to its European counterparts; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44306/20]
'Demand for Medical Consultants and Specialists to 2028 and the Training Pipeline to Meet Demand', the Report published by National Doctors Training and Planning Unit, HSE, this year incorporated the views of key stakeholders, including the National Clinical Programmes and the Postgraduate Training Bodies. It identified significant shortfalls in the ratio of consultants to population across specialties and the numbers required to meet these, taking account of current stakeholder perspectives and the earlier Hanly Report 's recommendations.
The Report recognises that Sláintecare gives an opportunity to work towards a more integrated, planned and sustainable workforce and the demand estimates in the Report will allow for better planning to meet future needs.
It has been recognised for many years that it is necessary to increase the ratio of consultants to population across specialties to move to a consultant delivered service. Sláintecare identified the need to increase consultant capacity and for workforce planning and the Government is committed to annual increases in consultant numbers in the years ahead, building on increases to-date and addressing the shortfalls identified in the Report.
In the 12 months to the end of October 2020 consultant numbers increased by 225 whole time equivalents to 3,456 and over the past 5 years numbers have increased by 735 (wte's). The Government is also committed to the introduction of the Sláintecare Consultant Contract early next year and to making this as attractive as possible to support future recruitment and retention.