Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Health, Billy Kelleher has said that whatever the circumstances that caused the underpayment of consultants, no front line health services can be affected or reduced.

Deputy Kelleher was commenting after it became clear that the Attorney General has advised the HSE to stop its appeal of the decision of Employment Appeals Tribunal to award backpay to two consultants.

“The Minister for Health needs to confirm how many consultants, it believes, are potentially eligible for a repayment.

“The media have reported a potential liability of €350 million. If this proves to be true, that will be nearly 40 times the amount of money the Government have committed in 2017 to provide new services.

“It will be absolutely inexcusable for patients and service users to see a reduction in services. The health system is already facing a crisis.

“It will be unable to maintain existing services with a potential €200-300 million cut in its funding.

“If repayments need to be made, the HSE should seek to have them done incrementally, and on a phased basis, to reduce the risk of cuts to front line services,” concluded Kelleher.