Reilly’ rejects HSE 2012 Service Plan: pure optics and a damage limitation exercise

Posted in Blog by saraburke on January 6, 2012

Having received a hammering from the print media over the holiday period, Minister James Reilly took a media offensive on 5  January 2012 on  RTE Radio with appearances on the Pat Kenny show and an interview with Fergal Bowers on the News at One. In my opinion, these media appearances were a combination of damage limitation and pure optics… (more…)


Uphill struggle ahead as Reilly finishes first term in health

Posted in Blog by saraburke on July 29, 2011

As the political season ends and James Reilly gives an upbeat speech to the MacGill summer school, immense challenges face him now and when the autumn season begins… (more…)

Consultants excluded from 15% voluntary pay cut….

Posted in Blog by saraburke on June 25, 2011

It was reported in the Irish Times (24 June 2011) that hospital consultants and or their representative bodies lobbied the minister for health, James Reilly, so as not to be included in the 15% voluntary pay waiver announced by Minister of Public Expenditure and Reform on Wednesday last (22 June 2011). This was refuted by both a spokesperson for the Minister of Health and the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform (known as PER). So why are consultants excluded and who earns what in the public health system?


Consultants: dissatisfied with cut backs

Posted in Blog by saraburke on April 8, 2011

Figures from an unpublished survey carried out by the Irish Medical Organisation show that over ¼ of consultants are thinking of leaving the public health system, that many of them are upset about cuts to services and their own pay.  (more…)

Rude health I: Mary Harney must go

Posted in Articles by saraburke on September 3, 2010

Here is my first column in Punt magazine: (more…)

A political show down on universal healthcare…

Posted in Blog by saraburke on April 19, 2010

So at last, the idea of universal healthcare is gaining public and political momentum in Ireland. Last week the Irish Medical Organisation launched a document on universal healthcare coverage and there was a conference on financing and organising social health insurance in Ireland organised by the Adelaide Hospital Society. So what did the respective bodies have to say and where do our political health leaders stand on these proposals?

For the first time in the history of the State, all opposition parties are in support of universal healthcare, albeit in very different ways. Minister Mary Harney remains utterly opposed to such proposals, Fianna Fail have no official health policy other than ‘government’ (ie Mary Harney’s) policy while the Greens position is utterly contradictory….


Consultants’ call for pay increase denied by HSE

Posted in Articles by saraburke on December 21, 2009

This article by me appeared in yesterday’s Sunday Times.

The Department of Health is refusing to back down over pay cuts, denying hospital consultants a salary rise to which they claim they are contractually entitled.

Last week, the Irish Hospital Consultants Association (IHCA) said its members would accept the pay cuts in the budget if they were first given the salary increase, which they said had been owed since June. The consultants claimed the rise was due under the terms of a new contract which came into force this year.

But the department has told The Sunday Times that no rise in pay will be given to any high-earning public servant, including consultants, until at least 2012, as recommended by a recent government report.  (more…)

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My fantasy health budget

Posted in Blog by saraburke on November 19, 2009

The week began with Mary Harney saying that she and her Department are “looking at everything in the health service” in terms of cuts. That for the first time they “are looking at prescription charges, that a 50 cent charge may be imposed per item prescribed”. Instead of hitting the poor and the sick, here are some other political and economic choices that can be made… (more…)

HSE confirm consultants were paid €90 million back pay for signing up!

Posted in Blog by saraburke on July 10, 2009

When researching the Drivetime slot on pharmacies yesterday, it was brought to my attention that the HSE had just paid out €90 million to medical consultants over the last few weeks. I just did not believe it. When respite beds are being cut in Cherry Orchard, while hospital wards are closed, when mileage is being restricted for essential care for public health nurse and homehelps, as staff on sick and maternity leave are not being replaced, the Minister thought it a good idea to deliver the ‘sweetener’ promised to consultants. Unbelievable. 

Maybe but true. It was confirmed to me late afternoon by HSE press office.

When, Harney and HSE chiefs were doing a hard sell on the VERY bad value for money new consultants contract, they promised consultants who signed up by September/October 08, that they would get paid their new, much higher salaries back paid to June 2008. It was estimated at the time that this would cost €168 million. 

In these tighter financial times, it was decided not to give the back pay to June 2008 but instead to January 2009. This is the  €90 million that the HSE just paid out. 

More on this anon…..