News & Publications

What's New

Dr Donal O’Hanlon announced as new President of the IHCA

[ Tuesday, 26th June 2018 ]

Dr Donal O’Hanlon announced as new President of the IHCA

New IHCA President cites recruitment and retention of new entrant Consultants and Health service capacity issues as core priorities

26 June 2018: The Irish Hospital Consultants Association (IHCA) has announced that Dr Donal O’Hanlon, Consultant Psychiatrist for the Health Service Executive Kildare, was elected President of the Association at the June IHCA National Council meeting. Dr O’Hanlon takes over the Presidency from Dr Tom Ryan, who had completed his two year term.

Dr O’Hanlon is an RCSI graduate who trained in Ireland and the United States, and has been primarily based in hospital practice throughout his career. He completed a Fellowship in Geriatric Psychiatry in Harvard University and has clinical interests in Geriatric Psychiatry, Consultation Liaison Psychiatry and Rehabilitation Psychiatry. He has held academic positions at Harvard University, Tufts University and the University of Connecticut and also Clinical Management positions in Ireland and the USA.

Commenting after being elected the 17th IHCA President, Dr Donal O’Hanlon stressed that recruitment and retention of Consultants and the critical need to end discrimination against younger Consultants will be the main focus of his tenure as President of the IHCA. The new President added that he sees a major challenge for the Health service to stabilise Hospital and Mental Health services after years of financial crisis.

Dr O’Hanlon said: “Our acute hospital and mental health services are increasingly uncompetitive in recruiting and retaining the number of consultants required to provide timely, high quality, safe care to patients. There are approximately 450 approved consultant posts, a full 15% of the total, which cannot be filled on a permanent basis and the age profile of the Consultant workforce suggests this problem will increase as 25% are over 55 years old. About half of the 450 posts are vacant and some are filled on an agency basis, at costs which are up to three times the discriminatory salaries being paid to new entrant consultants.”

The IHCA President continued: “The current two tier pay system for consultants is the major obstacle to recruitment of new Consultants. The “New Entrant” salary is not competitive in the global market for Consultants and it is discriminatory in the extreme towards new hospital Consultants. High Court orders entered into on 15 June 2018 require that the 2008 Consultant Contract salary must be paid to hospital consultants. The opposition of the State and health service employers (during the High Court settlement talks and since) to paying the corrected salaries to new entrant consultants exacerbates the discrimination, resulting in underpayments of salary of up to €75,000 per year for new consultants in comparison with longer serving colleagues.

Dr O’Hanlon said that such unacceptable discrimination against new consultants must be ended without delay. It convinces new consultants that they are not valued and that they will not be treated fairly by the Health Service. It is the major factor in the decision of many to emigrate rather than to build their career in Ireland. If the issue is not fully addressed by the Government without delay the  IHCA be vigorously pursuing the ending of the discrimination through legal and other actions to ensure full parity for new consultants, as the Association has consistently demanded since 2012” he added.

Dr O’Hanlon added: “Mental health services have seen a reduction in funding over the last decade and need a sustained, planned, multi- year funding programme in order to achieve the targets set out in Vision for Change; the policy on mental health services over a decade ago.”

The newly appointed IHCA President said that Hospital services lack sufficient basic infrastructure to meet existing demands and need to be able to cope with the increasing demand due to a growing and aging population. He noted that these deficits have to be addressed urgently and on a sufficient scale to cope with the rising demand and to avoid further restriction of the public services, due also in part to the loss of a generation of highly trained and motivated staff. Dr O’Hanlon added that Ireland needs to expand bed provision by 4,000 beds.


For more information:

James Dunny, FleishmanHillard 

T: +353 86 3883903| E: