James Reilly said the main benefit of the deal, agreed early yesterday, is “increased flexibility”, which means consultants will be available to work on site over seven days and will complete shifts over 24 hours.
Dr Reilly said the deal would cut “hugely premium pay and overtime payments” and cut the numbers of “junior doctors on at night time” and the tests ordered as “decisions will be made more quickly”.
The Irish Hospital Consultants Association (IHCA) and the Irish Medical Organisation (IMO) have not agreed to the 30% salary cut but are aware the HSE intends to proceed with it. It is outside the terms of the Croke Park Agreement.
The new salary rate for consultants will be between €116,000 and €121,000, €50,000 less per new post.
The negotiating teams will have to put the terms to their members for consideration.
One of the main sticking points is around an historic sick days agreement, whereby it was agreed in 1998 that consultants would not have to work their final year before retirement but would still be paid. This paid year off was to be in lieu of hours owed for weekend work.
Health service employers want to end this practice which 450 consultants are entitled to and it was agreed that it will now be referred to the Labour Court.
Two more issues — €500 payments to psychiatrists for a second opinion and new consultant rest day arrangements — will also be referred to the Labour Court.
IMO director of industrial relations, Steve Tweed, said: “The IMO consultant committee will review the proposals in detail and it will then be a matter for the consultant committee to decide if they will make a recommendation to IMO consultant members.”
It is not yet clear when the consultation process will be completed or when the referrals to the Labour Court will take place.