The Irish Hospital Consultants’ Association has called on the Minister for Health to postpone the introduction of a new insurance cover scheme for hospital consultants on 1 January next.

The Association said that the consultants' existing insurers will not be able to indemnify private practice from that date.

The new arrangement, called the Clinical Indemnity Scheme, will indemnify staff only for their public work. Up to now, the State has paid the bulk of the doctors' insurance fees for private practice, as part of their contracts.

There is a long-standing disagreement between the Department and consultants over the question of liability for historic claims against consultants.