The Irish Hospital Consultant's Association has called on the Department of Health to provide an extra 1,000 consultants in public hospitals. The call came today at a conference in Dublin to discuss the continuing crisis in medical staff shortages.

Consultant doctors say the demand for their services far outweighs their number. Of the 600,000 people who were admitted to public hospitals last year, the number of consultant doctors available to these patients was just over 1,000. At an EGM of the Hospital Consultant's Association today, consultants voted unanimously to increase the number of consultant appointments from 1,200 to 2,100 over the coming decade.

The Consultants Association accept that there is little point in assigning more consultants to new hospital posts unless there are adequate resources and medical back-up to support the appointments. They say that this issue will be taken fully into account in future negotiations with the Department of Health.