Barry O’Brien, HSE director of human resources, made the claim as he entered yesterday’s Labour Court meeting between the group and leading doctors’ representatives.
The meeting was organised to formalise plans to increase consultant work and on-call shifts from 23 to 26 per 28 days; change mental health second opinion payments; and clarify historic rest days owed to doctors from previous years.
However, despite negotiations last month seeming to bring the situation to a conclusion, the Irish Hospital Consultants Association (IHCA) said on Monday it would not take part in yesterday’s meeting.
As a result, Public Expenditure Minister Brendan Howlin and the HSE said consultants represented by this union could be open to unilateral pay cuts. The IHCA has not ruled out legal action if this takes place.
Mr O’Brien warned: “The programme for government clearly said that one of the options it would consider would be to cut consultants’ pay.
“We took a different approach which was to engage in a proactive way to bring about change and that savings would be made in that way.
“By not engaging under Croke Park [the Labour Court hearing], IHCA consultants are removing themselves from those protections and leave themselves at risk of a pay cut.”
Meanwhile, Irish Medical Organisation director of industrial relations Steve Tweed said doctors represented by his union are “clearly complying with Croke Park and therefore to talk about pay cuts for our members” should not be considered.