Irish Medical Organisation

Newstalk 106-108- Lunchtime Programme - 20th June 2011

Dr Ronan Boland, IMO President discusses the expected shortage of NCHDs on July 11th. The following is a transcript of extract from the :

PROGRAMME  Newstalk Lunchtime
SUBJECT  Dr Ronan Boland
STATION  Newstalk
DATE/TIME  20.06.2011
OUR REF  1106044 – PO HOC
DURATION  4 Minutes

Jonathan Healy:

Now A&E Departments all across the country are facing a looming crisis due to the lack of junior doctors. The ongoing failure of the HSE to recruit for the vacant posts is set to create a severe shortage in several hospitals when the next rotation occurs on the 11th of July, still only a couple of weeks ago. The lack of applicants is likely to force the closure of numerous A&E Departments during certain hours, with patients being diverted to other hospitals as a result. For more on the impact of these closures I’m joined now by Catherine Shanahan of the Irish Examiner, she’s the Health Correspondent there, and also Dr. Ronan Boland, President of the Irish Medical Organisation. You’re both very welcome…..interview proceeds with Catherine Shanahan, including statement from the HSE….. Let me bring in Dr. Ronan Boland. Dr. Boland, good afternoon to you, President of the Irish Medical Organisation. Just in relation to this, what are the affects on doctors, on nurses, on staff in the hospitals, I mean if A&Es are closed or they’re operating at full capacity and then they have to close at night time, are staff going to be redeployed from, as the HSE suggest, redeployed from other areas within hospitals to cover up the gap and what pressure does it put on your members?

Dr. Ronan Boland: (President, IMO)

Good afternoon. I suppose such issues arise and contingency arrangements are put in place as best possible when they arise. Redeployment of doctors is attractive in theory, I read that article in the Sunday Business Post yesterday, as I’m sure you did yourself, and in fairness one of the things it pointed out was that the shortfall in terms of doctors is not confined to emergency departments, it appears, and I’m not in a position to verify this myself, but it would appear from the article that there are significant shortfalls in terms of recruitment in medical surgical doctors also, so the potential to redeploy doctors, even where doctors have the necessary skills, and remember that different doctors within, non-consultant doctors, working within the hospital environs would have different skill sets at different times so it’s not just a straightforward matter of pulling a doctor from one department to another department, a doctor may not have the necessary experience or skills…

Jonathan Healy:

Okay sure, but can I just put it like a layman’s point to you, supposing you closed down more accident and emergency departments at night time and say if it were to happen in Limerick at the Regional, as was suggested in that article yesterday, and then after eight o’clock in the evening emergencies have to either go to Galway or Cork, are you not then pushing people, you’re clogging up what is already a bursting already or full A&E department in either of those places?

Dr. Ronan Boland:

Absolutely but bear in mind of course that we’ve already had curtailment of A&E services in Nenagh and in Ennis, in the mid-west region, and the public were given reassurance on the basis that services would be centralised and the expertise would be centralised at the regional treatment centre in Limerick, so in a situation where Limerick were unable to provide, to guarantee twenty-four seven service, it would be a source of serious concern in the mid-west of course, not just in terms of inconveniencing patients, having to travel very long distances, but also in terms of adequate response to emergencies that would arise in a big geographical chunk of the country, so yes.

Jonathan Healy:

So Ronan, just because we’re running out of time, what’s your solution or what’s your proposed solution to this under, to this shortage of junior doctors, is there a way to resolve it in the next few weeks, is there an easy way?

Dr. Ronan Boland:

There is no easy way and as Catherine Shanahan quite rightly pointed out, this is not a problem that’s arisen in the last month, it’s been a problem, it’s got a lot worse in recent times, not just because of the factors that Catherine highlighted, but also because the terms and conditions of junior doctors has significantly disimproved, as has everybody else in the public health service and medicine operates in an international environment and Ireland has become a less attractive place for doctors to come from other jurisdictions, it’s also become a less attractive place for doctors who are in training to stay and I think stay is a very important word because the focus has been almost exclusively on recruiting doctors from other jurisdictions. We need to work hard at maintaining the doctors we have, with ensuring they have adequate training opportunities and that they don’t leave the jurisdiction because we badly need them as is clearly evident from your report.

Jonathan Healy:

Alright, we’ll leave it there. Dr. Ronan Boland, who’s the President of the Irish Medical Organisation, and Catherine Shanahan, the Irish Examiner’s Health Correspondent, many thanks for joining us here on Lunchtime on Newstalk.

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