Minister for Health Simon Harris has written to the Irish Medical Organisation, inviting the IMO to meet his department, the Health Service Executive and the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform next week.

The meeting will discuss issues around recruitment and retention in the consultant workforce.

The IMO said it would accept the invitation to the talks but that it would not discuss other issues, until the Government agreed steps to end pay discrimination against new consultants.

The union said that new consultants are paid up to €50,000 less than their colleagues, for no other reason than the date of their appointment.

Both the IMO and the Irish Hospital Consultants Association have insisted that pay parity for newer consultants must be dealt with, and talks had been expected to begin last month.

Consultants appointed after October 2012 are paid less than those appointed before that time.

The IHCA was critical of Mr Harris for not attending its recent annual conference.

A spokesperson for the minister said that he would also write to other stakeholders in due course.