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Talks on consultants’ contracts end

Negotiations to reach a deal on consultants’ contracts in the Republic of Ireland have ended without agreement.

Officials from the Health Service Executive (HSE) were hopeful that a solution could be reached, but doctors’ leaders said there are still a number of outstanding issues.

The talks focused on private practice rights, hours, new clinical directors and a new body to regulate the appointment of consultants.

The Irish Medical Organisation (IMO) said it has made concessions, including introducing a new salaried contract, increasing basic working hours from 33 to 37 hours per week, and extending working times from 8am to 8pm, Monday to Friday.

IMO consultant committee chairman Dr Sean Tierney said: “We have also committed to exploring further changes in working hours arrangements on the basis of patient need and the availability of sufficient staffing and resources.

“We have sought to ensure that patients can be confident that clinical decisions are independent of management pressures.

“Crucially, we believe that internationally-recognised quality standards must govern the appointment of consultants in future, which we believe would be paramount to patient care and safety. However, the employers have refused to sign up to such standards.”

Irish health minister Mary Harney has said she will hire new consultants on revised contracts if the talks fail to reach a resolution.

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Irish Medical Organisation