[Sinn Fein]

28th May 2003

Brennan Report on Health Services

 Government has failed to meet Health Strategy target on consultants' contracts

Sinn Fein Health spokesperson Caoimhghin Ó Caoláin TD has called on the Ministerfor Health and Children Micheál Martin TD to ``take on the privileged position ofconsultants'' in light of the Brennan report which highlights their powerful rolewithin the health services. Deputy Ó Caoláin pointed out that the Government hadfailed  to  reach  the  target  set  out in the National Health Strategy for theconclusion of an agreement on a revised contract for hospital consultants.He  said  there  was  ``a  stark  contrast  between  the position of the hospitalconsultants  and  the  unjust  way  the Government has treated the public healthdoctors currently in dispute''.

Commenting on the report of the Brennan Commission, Deputy Ó Caoláin said:''This  study has once again identified the privileged position occupied by thoseconsultants  who  manipulate  the  public  health  services  to facilitate theirprivate practice.

``In  the  National  Health  Strategy  (Action  89)  the Government promises that'greater  equity  for  public  patients will be sought on a revised contract forhospital  consultants'.  This  was  to  be  achieved  by  agreement of a revisedcontract  for hospital consultants by the end of 2002. The Government has missedthis  target. In January I tabled a Dáil question to the Minister for Health andChildren  asking  when  an  agreement  will be reached on a revised contract forhospital consultants. The Minister was unable to indicate when negotiations willconclude or even whether an agreement will be reached.

``Through their professional bodies the consultants have a veto on the deploymentof  their  services  throughout the health system. Too often their decisions arebased  on their sense of the career needs of their profession rather than on thehealthcare needs of service users. This must change or else reform of the systemwill prove impossible.

``This  report comes at the height of the public health doctors dispute. There isa stark contrast between the position of the hospital consultants and the unjustway  the Government has treated the public health doctors who work solely in thepublic  sector.  With  talks  due  to  begin this Friday I urge the Minister forHealth  and  Children  Mícheál Martin to ensure that public health doctors get afair deal.''  ENDS

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