Perceptions of Higher Specialist Trainees and Fellows of the Proposed Sláintecare Consultant Contract and Implications for Workforce Planning in Ireland

Workforce planning Training concerns Trainee survey Consultant contract Sláintecare Doctor recruitment Doctor emigration Trainee perceptions Training in Ireland

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September 7, 2021

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To explore the perceptions of higher specialist trainees and fellows in Ireland with respect to the Irish Department of Health’s recent proposal to implement a drafted, non-negotiated, consultant contract under a new model for healthcare, termed the Sláintecare plan. A customized survey, incorporating multiple-choice and Likert-scale questions and a free-text option, was disseminated to doctors enrolled in Irish higher specialist training (HST) programmes and pre-consultant HST graduates (fellows). Responses were compiled and analysed. There were a total of 1109 respondents across all specialities. Trainees were particularly concerned regarding the Sláintecare contract’s potential impact on their abilities to engage in patient advocacy and provide optimal patient care in the future, the maintenance of specialist skillsets, their ownership of intellectual property and a stable location of the practice.  Of respondents, 93.7% (1003/1070) indicated that they would consider working abroad rather than accept the proposed contract. This study highlights the perceptions and concerns of the higher specialist trainees and fellows of Ireland. A large proportion may emigrate rather than accept the Sláintecare proposals.  Concerns exist surrounding the ability to advocate for patients, to provide patient care, the proposed working conditions and perceived potential to deskill under this contract’s terms.