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'chaos' Four junior doctors paid overtime in excess of €150,000 last year

A further nine junior doctors received overtime payments of between €100,000 and €150,000

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Four junior doctors each received overtime payments in excess of €150,000 last year.

Figures released by the Health Service Executive (HSE) in response to a Freedom of Information request show that the overtime bill for Non Consultant Hospital Doctors (NCHDs) or junior doctors last year increased by 9.5pc or €10m to €118.84m.

The €118.84m overtime bill makes up 50pc of the HSE’s overall overtime bill of €237.9m for 2021.

The overtime pay to NCHDs increased as the HSE continued its battle against Covid-19 in 2021.

Along with the four NCHDs to receive overtime in excess of €150,000, a further nine junior doctors received overtime pay between €100,000 and €150,000.

The aggregate overtime bill for the top 10 earning NCHDs in overtime last year was €1.375m.

The top amount paid out in overtime to an NCHD last year was €169,772 which was paid to a Specialist Registrar in Cork whose overall pay for the year totalled €250,581.

The Specialist Registrar’s €169,772 overtime payment was more than twice the NCHDs basic pay of €80,808.

The top paid NCHD last year received €281,894 taking account of the Galway-based Registrar’s basic pay of €123,328 and overtime pay of €158,565.

The third best paid NCHD, listed as a Senior Registrar in Limerick, last year received €239,834 in total made up of basic pay of €89,650 and overtime of €150,184.

In total, nine NCHDs received aggregate pay - basic pay plus overtime only - of over €200,000 with another 15 earning aggregate pay of between €150,000 and €200,000.

A spokesman for the Irish Medical Organisation (IMO) said on Friday that “there are over 7,500 NCHDs in the Irish system and these sort of payments are very rare”.

He said: “Having said that, they do demonstrate how chaotic the system is, that some NCHDs are being forced to work such huge amounts of overtime just to keep the system functioning.”

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Earlier this week, the IMO announced its intention to ballot NCHDs for industrial action after stating that its NCHDs are demoralised, frustrated and angry over long-standing concerns about working conditions, safe hours and routine breaches of contract.

The IMO spokesman said on Friday: “Our recent survey of NCHDs also revealed that 54pc of NCHDs have not received payment for all the overtime they did. It is exploitation and it has to stop. That is why we are running the #standingup4nchds campaign and that is why we are balloting for industrial action.”

According to a statement attached to the HSE FOI reply “overtime hours are used in the main to cover short term absences and/or to respond to immediate service pressures.

“Additional overtime costs are generally driven by increases in pay rates combined with increased utilization; however, it is important to note that increased absences and service demands resulting from the COVID 19 Pandemic have significantly impacted on the requirement for overtime utilisation in 2021”.

In relation to overtime costs in the area of mental health, the HSE statement attached to the FOI reply stated that overtime cost in Mental Health is driven largely by the requirement to maintain rostering levels at safe levels, particularly in Acute units and Community services”.

The HSE stated that there are significant vacancies in the mental health service and during 2021, this was compounded by the impact of the COVID 19 Pandemic on staffing levels.

The HSE stated that “the availability of skilled staff is a significant issue in mental health services where demand outstrips supply in both the national and international contexts, despite numerous local and international recruitment campaigns and where the workforce, particularly younger staff, are availing of employment opportunities outside of Ireland”.

The HSE stated: “This is reflective of the international market in which health care operates and an international shortage of healthcare staff.”

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