16 May 2017
By Tom Collins
Recruitment and retention of staff must be Minister Harris’ first priority – says Cork opposition TD
Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Health, Billy Kelleher (Cork North Central) has said that patient safety cannot be guaranteed as a result of the decision of the HSE to appoint doctors who have not finished their specialist training as consultants.
“It has become clear that, as a result of the inability of the HSE to recruit and retain doctors of all levels, decisions are being taken that may not be In the interests of patient safety.
“To become a consultant level doctor takes eight years or more training, at Basic and Higher level. The current situation whereby the HSE are appointing doctors who have not completed their full higher specialist training is not acceptable.
“Patients should be confident that whoever is appointed as a consultant has the skills and experiences needed to discharge their duties.
“I am deeply concerned at reports that approximately one in seven consultant level positions, in excess of 300 positions, is unfilled at all times.
“As the practice of medicine becomes more and more complex, we cannot allow a situation to develop whereby those diagnosing and ultimately treating patients with serious, and in many cases life threating, conditions have not undergone the necessary training and oversight by more senior consultants.
“Minister Harris needs to spell out how he will rectify the current situation where non-qualified doctors are working as consultants.
“This is yet another situation where Fine Gael in government has failed to come up with a tangible and realistic plan to address the shortage of doctors in our health system.
“It’s no wonder that the number of patients waiting for appointments or treatments have rocketed in recent years.
“The Government must find a way of reducing the number of medical and nursing graduates leaving the HSE and opting to work overseas,“ concluded Kelleher.