In March 2017 I published the ‘Critical Health Professionals Bill, 2017’. The Bill was designed to ensure that critical health professionals in the public health service, may, if they wish, postpone their retirement where they would otherwise have been forced to retire at a particular age, subject to dual consent being in place between the employee and the employer.
The Government recently announced an increase in the compulsory retirement age from 65 to 70 years of age. This will include health professionals who are employed in the public health service. This applies to those who wish to continue in employment, past the former mandatory retirement age of 65. This is good news for the already over-stretched and understaffed health sector.
The Government will now bring forward legislation which will achieve the objectives set out in the Bill which I proposed last year and ensure that invaluable skills, vital to the embattled health sector, will be maintained and that critical health professionals will not be forced to retire simply because of a date in the calendar.
The legislation will apply to the entire public sector, however, the health sector, I believe, will see the greatest benefit. The problems with the health service are some of the most important problems we face in Ireland today. 2018 is only twelve days old and yet, the number of patients on trolleys reached an all-time record high of 656.
There are acute shortages in key areas of the health service with up to 300 unfilled consultant positions in Ireland and the Government was, until now, forcing those who were by all accounts able to continue working, to retire.
I have been campaigning on this matter and engaging in constructive consultation with the Minister for Health and the Department of Health for some time now and I will continue to do so, to ensure the speedy enactment of this legislation.