Minister for Health Simon Harris has said talks will begin next week with consultants on a range of issues.

Talks will deal with the demand for pay parity for more recently appointed consultants, recruitment and retention of staff and reform plans including the aim of removing private care from public hospitals.

Mr Harris said that the first meeting will be with the Irish Medical Organisation on 17 October, as it is affiliated to the Irish Congress of Trade Unions but he said he would widen discussions with other organisations afterwards.

He said that if an agreement is reached by Government it will be funded.

He was speaking at a briefing today on the health Budget for 2020.

Asked about the motion of no confidence in him passed last weekend by the Council of the Irish Hospital Consultants Association, Mr Harris said he would treat personalised attacks with contempt and that he wanted to deal with the substantive issues in health.

He said that deals had been reached with GPs, nurses and can be reached with consultants.

Mr Harris said that €60m is being provided to recruit 1,000 frontline staff into the community by the end of 2021.

He also said that next year will see the first increase in eligibility for the medical card for over 70s, since 2009.