Thousands of hospital consultants set for pay increases after legal case settled

The settlement will cost the State €182 million in back payments, as well as €62 million each year

Thousands of hospital consultants set for pay increases after legal case settled

Paschal Donohoe and Simon Harris comment on the agreement at Government Buildings. Image: Paul Quinn

Thousands of hospital consultants are set to receive pay increases following the settlement of a legal case.

The disagreement broke out over a government decision in 2009 to not pay the final phase of increases that had been agreed under the terms of the previous year's medical consultants’ contract.

Around 700 consultants had taken a legal case against the State and the HSE over a breach of contract, with the Government saying there was a potential 2,000 other cases "with similar grounds for initiating proceedings".

However, the legal action has now been settled.

The deal will cost the State €182 million in back payments, plus an ongoing cost of €62 million each year from next January.

However, the arrangement does not apply to doctors recruited after 2012.

Finance Minister Pascal Donohoe says while today is a difficult one, it could have been much worse.

He observed: "I recognise that these are very significant, large amounts of money.

"However, the outcome that we have achieved is considerably less than our earlier estimate of potential costs of almost €700 million."

Health Minister Simon Harris added: "Significant savings for the taxpayer will be achieved given the terms of the settlement that has been brokered.

"It also saves all parties from a protracted and costly legal battle."

The Irish Hospital Consultants Association, meanwhile, welcomed the settlement - describing it as an "important and essential development".

The association's president Dr Tom Ryan called it a significant step "in restoring trust between consultants and health sector employers" and for delivering high quality health care to patients.

He added: "It is now essential that the discrimination against New Entrant Consultants is ended without delay, as Ireland is no longer competitive in the global marketplace for talented doctors."