Hospitals counting cost of doc shortage

  • Niall Hunter, Editor

Last-minute bureaucratic hitches were preventing some badly-needed junior doctors from taking up posts in emergency departments (EDs) today, the Irish Association of Emergency Medicine (IAEM) has reported.

IAEM President Fergal Hickey said while it was too early at this stage to gauge the fall-out nationally from the  junior doctor shortage, the Association would be carrying out a fact-finding survey of EDs later this week.

However, he told that one doctor was due to arrive for work at his department in Sligo Hospital today from Eastern Europe but could not travel due to a last-minute visa issue, having previously been cleared to work here.

He said in another case, a doctor also cleared to work in his department was awaiting a sign-off on their documentation by the Medical Council.

Mr Hickey said he had heard of similar last-minute hitches in other hospitals around the country trying to fill junior doctor posts.

The HSE said earlier today that while there weredoctor shortages, the overall impact on services was unlikely to be significant.

Junior doctors will continue to be recruited in the coming weeks, many from abroad, and the HSE says it is putting contingency plans in place to deal with vacancies on the ground.

Around 150 posts are said to be vacant as recruitment is continuing.

Meanwhile, the the emergency department at Roscommon Hospital ended its 24-hour service today and was replaced by a 12-hour urgent care unit.

Protests against the closure have taken place in Roscommon, in addition to protests in Mallow against the planned downscaling of the local hospital emergency department service later this year.

Discussions on this topic are now closed.