Dáil Éireann - Volume 494 - 08 October, 1998

Written Answers. - Hospital Consultants.

67. Mrs. B. Moynihan-Cronin asked the Minister for Health and Children the contracts currently offered to consultants in the public health service, including details of pay scales, working hours and conditions in each case; the sanctions, if any, which exist for non-compliance with contracts; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18900/98]

Minister for Health and Children (Mr. Cowen): The current contract on offer to hospital consultants is effective from 1 January 1998 and was agreed following lengthy negotiations with the medical organisations. Under the terms of the contract, hospital consultants sign an individual contract with hospitals or health boards and agree how the commitment is to be discharged, having regard to the nature of the service to be provided to the public hospital system. Hospital consultants are engaged to provide at least 11 three hour [1587] sessions to the public hospital system each week and are also required to be on-call outside normal working hours to deal with emergencies as appropriate. Consultants are paid a basic salary together with additional payments for being on-call and also for being called out to deal with emergency cases. The contract includes a grievance procedure in the event of non-compliance by either party with the terms. In addition, the employer can also invoke the disciplinary procedure where necessary.

Under the terms of the existing contract, consultants are enabled to engage in the treatment of both private and public patients. Private patients may be treated in public hospitals or in private consulting rooms. The contract offered takes into account the consultants commitment to the public hospital system and is remunerated accordingly as follows: hospital consultants who devote all their time to the public hospital system and do not accept private fees — £83,979; hospital consultants who devote their time to the public hospital system but accept fees from private patients — between £72,319 and £80,171; and hospital consultants who treat patients in the public hospital system but also see patients in private consulting rooms — between £64,576 and £71,556. If a consultant is rostered to be on-call a flat rate of £1,887 per annum is also paid. In addition if the on-call rota is 1:3, 1:2 or 1:1 a consultant is paid £1,091 per annum, £2,726 per annum, £3,272 per annum respectively. When a consultant is rostered on-call and is called out to treat a patient the payment per call-out is:

First 30 call-outs

31-120 call-outs

121 call- outs or more

£

£

£

Per call-out

38.44

57.79

76.33

If the call-out occurs after midnight

51.21

77.42

102.51

For each hour or part hour in excess of the first hour

25.57

38.16

51.25

Annual Limit

£10,905