More than 45% of hospital consultants sign up to public-only contract

Since it was launched a year ago, 1,923 consultants have signed up to the contract

Almost half of all hospital consultants have signed the new public-only contract since it was launched a year ago.

A total of 1,923 consultants have signed the contract, including 380 new entrants and 1,543 who have switched from their existing contracts.

This means more than 45 per cent of the total number of consultants working in the public health service are on the new contract, according to Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly.

Consultants on the new contract are not allowed to treat private patients in public hospitals under the contract.


Mr Donnelly said the number of consultants working in the public health service had increased by 30 per cent in four years – from 3,250 in December 2019 to 4,258 whole-time equivalents now.

“As uptake has now reached a critical mass in many hospitals and other healthcare settings, we will be working with HSE management to ensure its full potential is maximised in all hospitals and settings to ensure that patients experience the full benefit of having senior decision-makers rostered on site over longer hours and weekends,” Mr Donnelly said.

“As the contract will see many consultants wind down and cease private practice in public hospitals, hospital managers and clinical directors must ensure this additional capacity is used to improve access for public patients.”

The specialities with the largest uptake of the contract to date are general medicine, anaesthetics and surgery. Some 53 per cent of intensive care consultants and 45 per cent of emergency medicine consultants are now on the new contract.

Under the terms of the contract, consultants can be rostered to work an extended working day, until 10pm, Monday to Friday. They can also be rostered to work Saturdays 8am to 6pm. The contract offers pay of €217,000-€261,000, a 37-hour week and additional pay for on-call and overtime.

Paul Cullen

Paul Cullen

Paul Cullen is a former heath editor of The Irish Times.