New leadership at hospital consultant body will continue fight for patient access to timely and quality care in Ireland

  • Professor Alan Irvine, Consultant Dermatologist at Children’s Health Ireland elected new President to represent over 90% of Irish hospital consultants;
  • National Officers include Dr. Gabrielle Colleran (Vice President), Prof. Clare Fallon (Treasurer) and Dr. Conor O’Riordan (Membership Secretary);
  • IHCA sets out key objectives of ending the consultant recruitment and retention crisis, advocating for patients, and reducing ‘still growing’ hospital waiting lists.

The Irish Hospital Consultant Association (IHCA) announced today, Friday, 11 September 2020, the election of its National Officers for the period 2020/2021.

Representing over 90% of Ireland’s hospital consultants, the officers elected to lead the representative body are:

  • President – Prof. Alan Irvine, Consultant Dermatologist at Children’s Health Ireland at Crumlin.
  • Vice President – Dr. Gabrielle Colleran, Consultant Radiologist, Children’s Health Ireland at Temple Street.
  • Treasurer – Prof. Clare Fallon, Consultant in Geriatric Medicine, Regional Hospital Mullingar.
  • Membership Secretary – Dr. Conor O’Riordan, Consultant Radiologist, St Luke’s Hospital, Kilkenny.

The election of National Officers is held every two years; the new appointments were made during the IHCA’s National Council meeting of 5 September 2020. 

The change in leadership at the IHCA comes at a time where around 500 permanent consultant posts are currently either vacant or filled on a temporary basis in our acute public hospitals, and almost one million people in Ireland find themselves on some form of waiting list for treatment or to see a hospital consultant.

The effect of the widespread consultant and capacity deficit has only been amplified during the Covid-19 pandemic. With the latest figures in hospital waiting lists due to be released later today (Friday) consultants expect to see further increases in the number of people waiting to see a specialist or receive treatment.

According to new President, Prof. Alan Irvine, the IHCA continues to advocate strongly for an improved, sustainable health system that delivers timely access to care for all patients – both in the ongoing Covid-19 environment and the longer term.

Commenting on his election, Prof. Alan Irvine, IHCA President, said:

We fear that Ireland’s health system is lacking the necessary plans to enable the timely provision hospital care to those who need it in  – what the HSE itself has said will be – the most challenging winter we may have seen.

“As our hospitals face the unprecedented challenge of Covid-19 with already-strained resources, the IHCA will continue to challenge our health service leaders and advocate for practical, workable solutions for addressing Ireland’s healthcare capacity deficits.

“We know what those problems are and we know what it takes to fix them: fill the 500 vacant permanent consultant posts, open up the required number of beds and ensure they are resourced and staffed. Yet there is no clear commitment to doing this from the HSE or Government.

“I would like to thank my predecessor, Dr Donal O’Hanlon, who led the association in developing and rolling out our ongoing #CareCantWait campaign aimed at raising awareness of and putting forward solutions to resolve the consultant recruitment and retention crisis in Ireland. The IHCA will continue this campaign, holding Government to account for the fact that there are now almost 1 million people waiting for some form of hospital care in Ireland.

“I look forward to engaging and working with all health stakeholders including Minister for Health, Stephen Donnelly and the Chief Executive of the HSE, Paul Reid.”

Dr Gabrielle Colleran has been re-elected to her role as the IHCA’s Vice President, one which she has carried with energy and determination over the past year.

Commenting on her re-election, Dr Colleran said:

“As we prepare for a possible second surge of Covid-19 and come into the autumn/winter period which, regardless of the pandemic, has traditionally proven to be an exceptional challenge for our public hospitals, Government must act now to implement practical plans and workable solutions that will provide capacity to ensure the system can cope.

“Our members have given us a clear signal that they are firmly committed to the #CareCantWait campaign and to driving change in our system to deliver better health outcomes.

“I look to the period ahead with apprehension for what our hospitals will face, but also with conviction to work with our new Government and Minister for Health on making the Irish health system a place that skilled consultants can and want to work in, to the benefit of all our patients.”