More than 400 hospital consultants in Ireland have accepted new public-only contracts, with 294 existing consultants transitioning from their previous contracts and 125 newly appointed consultants joining, reported The Irish Times.

Despite being dismissed by the Irish Medical Organisation (IMO) and Irish Hospital Consultants’ Association (IHCA), the new contracts were introduced in March by the government.

The contracts offer salaries up to €252,000, and bar consultants from conducting private work in public hospitals.

Including further allowances, overtime payments and pension contributions, the packages are worth up to €300,000.

While the Health Service Executive (HSE) has seen a steady increase in sign-ups, concerns remain about issues such as working hours, locations, and resources.

IMO welcomed the move but highlighted that it’s a fraction of the number required to fill the 900-plus vacant consultant roles in the health industry.

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IMO consultant committee chair Matthew Sadlier was quoted as saying by the publication: “We are short a further 2,000 consultants based on population at the moment so the scale of the challenge is clear.”

While existing consultants can stay on their old contracts, new consultants must work under the new terms.

An HSE spokesman stated: “The new contract has significant benefits for the health services in terms of the flexibilities contained therein and also an attractive remuneration package for the individuals.”