Hospital consultants are to ballot on possible industrial action next month in a row with the Department of Health and Children over the new Health Bill.

The Irish Medical Organisation claims the bill renders null and void existing disciplinary procedures for consultants and introduces new complaints procedures and gagging clauses, without any consultation.

The IMO said its members were also concerned at the decision to defer the pay review for consultants under the Review Body on Higher Remuneration until 2007, in spite of an expectation that the review would start at the end of this year.

The IMO said it had met today with the Irish Hospital Consultants' Association to co-ordinate the response to the developments.