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IHCA survey confirms health service facing exodus of recently appointed hospital consultants due to blatant discrimination

[ Monday, 9th July 2018 ]

9 July, 2018: The Irish Hospital Consultants Association (IHCA) today released the results of a survey of 317 recently appointed  Consultant members that confirms acute hospital and mental health services face an escalating and unprecedented consultant recruitment and retention crisis due to ongoing blatant discrimination by the State and health service employers against new hospital Consultants.

Almost all respondents (99%) agree that lower salary terms are having an adverse impact on the delivery of patient care due to the large number of consultant posts that are unfilled or filled on a temporary basis. The IHCA President said that over 70% of the new Consultants have confirmed that they will seriously consider resigning from their public hospital posts unless the discriminatory salary terms are corrected. Furthermore, the vast majority of respondents (95%) strongly agree that the lower salary terms do not reflect the importance of the work and level of responsibility that they hold in their public posts.

IHCA President, Dr Donal O’Hanlon said: “The survey has provided categorical evidence that our highly trained specialist consultants will not continue to work in our health services if the persistent and blatant discrimination against them continues. Recently appointed Consultants are on salaries significantly below those of their pre-October 2012 colleagues who are currently being paid up to 57% more.


Dr O’Hanlon said it is not surprising that 72% of new Consultants ranked equal pay for equal work as the most important aspect of their working terms and conditions given the ongoing extreme discrimination they are being subjected to by the State as their ultimate employer.

In addition, 92% of the respondents confirmed that they are personally aware of colleagues working abroad who will not return to work in the Irish Public Health system as a direct result of the lower salary terms. 

Dr O’Hanlon said that the results of the survey should set alarm bells ringing at Government level as it is now abundantly clear that consultant delivery of services to patients is on a cliff edge because it is being fundamentally and critically undermined by the State’s persistent discrimination against internationally sought after specialist Hospital Consultants.

Dr O’Hanlon continued that ‘’our acute 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 recently appointed 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 issued 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 appointed consultants exacerbates the discrimination.

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 doctors to emigrate rather than to build their career in Ireland. If the issue is not fully addressed by the Government without delay the  IHCA will continue to vigorously pursue 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.


For more information / media queries:

James Dunny, FleishmanHillard: T: +353 86 3883903 | E:

Fiona Murphy, FleishmanHillard: T: + 353 87 8194464 | E:


Notes to Editors:

About the IHCA

The Irish Hospital Consultants Association was established to promote, encourage and support the advancement of the practice of Medicine, in all specialties and areas, and the improvement of the Health Services in Ireland. It also seeks to promote and protect the interests of Medical and Dental hospital consultants in Ireland. There are over 2,700 members of the Association and it is widely recognised as the leading representative voice for the profession in Ireland.