Total of 1,923 consultants have signed new public-only contract

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Health Minister, Stephen Donnelly has announced that 1,923 consultants have signed the new contract since it was launched last March. The 1,923 figure is made up of 380 new entrants signing the contract and 1,543 consultants who have switched from their existing contracts.

The Department said this meant that more than 45% of the total number of consultants working across our health service were now on the new contract.  The significant uptake of the contract enabled the move towards universal, single-tiered healthcare, where patients were treated on medical need rather than ability to pay. Consultants on the new contract will not be able to treat private patients in public hospitals under this contract. 

Minister Donnelly said, “I am pleased to see such a high uptake of the Public-Only Consultant Contract.  This will have an increasingly positive impact on the delivery of ealthcare in Ireland. It is an important enabler in addressing some of the systemic challenges in our public health service. As uptake has now reached a critical mass in many hospitals and other healthcare settings, we will be working with HSE management to ensure its full potential is maximised in all hospitals and settings to ensure that patients experience the full benefit of having senior decision-makers rostered on site over longer hours and weekends. As the contract will see many consultants wind down and cease private practice in public hospitals, hospital managers and clinical directors must ensure this additional capacity is used to improve access for public patients.”

The Department said take-up of the new contract was strong across all specialities, with the majority of disciplines seeing at least a 40% uptake.

The specialities with the largest uptake of the contract to date were General Medicine, Anaesthetics and Surgery. Furthermore, 53% of Intensive Care consultants and 45% of Emergency Medicine consultants were now on the new Public-Only Consultant Contract.

The Minister also welcomed the large increase in the number of consultants working in the health service.   He said, “The number of consultants has been steadily rising over the last 10 years with the most significant increases occurring during the last four years. There are 4,258 consultants, Whole-Time Equivalents (WTEs) currently working in our public health service. In comparison, there were 3,250 consultants in December 2019, which highlights the very substantial 30% growth in just over four years.”