The Health Minister James Reilly would get more co-operation from consultants if he worked with them to improve inefficiencies in public hospitals, according to a top consultant.
Michael O'Keefe, Consultant Ophthalmologist at the Mater Hospital, Dublin, said consultants are an easy target, because they are highly paid and highly skilled.
He was responding to Dr Reilly's comments yesterday, when he said he was losing patience with consultants over reforming their work practices.
Dr O'Keefe said the real inefficiencies in public hospitals come from things like 'downtime' - the practice whereby lists of procedures are cancelled.
Dr O'Keefe said: "When he talks about efficiency, there is all this downtime going on in hospitals. Lists can't be done, they are being cancelled, these patients are being put on private waiting lists and these patients are farmed out to private hospitals and money is paid for them.
"If the minister wants to come into hospitals and say to the consultants 'look, will you do all these patients free in the public hospital and I will provide the facilities there for you', I am sure he would get a positive response."