In the brilliantly organised, highly emotional campaign on nurses’ pay, inconvenient facts were not allowed to colour the narrative. Anyone who dared to point out that nurses are among the best paid in the world was dismissed as a stooge, even though league table after league table confirms that reality.
However, a new Department of Public Expenditure review suggests it may be unfair to focus on the nurses. Their consultant colleagues, at least as vociferous when demanding higher pay, earned 28% more than their UK peers and 36% more than those in New Zealand in 2017.
The review found that consultants’ pay is “competitive” — it’s almost a third higher — when compared to the UK but behind pay scales in America or Canada. This official data should not be ignored.
The review pointed to a situation that may be even more pressing than the need to talk honestly about pay rates. The HSE could not provide concrete figures on consultants’ pay. Estimates were provided — maybe an educated guess but an estimate nonetheless.
“The definitive number of consultants employed broken down by contract type and salary for 2017 is not available,” the review states.
This failure of basic housekeeping would, in the real world, bring at least one career to an end. That it won’t goes a long way to explaining why the health service is so dysfunctional and so reliant on supplementary funding every year. We, and the tens of thousands working in the service, deserve much better.