Irish Medical Organisation

New IMO President warns overcrowding Emergency Depts "costs lives"

Statement by Irish Medical Organisation

  • New IMO President warns that medical profession is “under attack’
  • Warns that overcrowding in Emergency Departments ‘costs lives”
  • Calls for an additional 7,000 hospital beds to deal with rising and aging population.

Sunday 8th April 2018.  The new President of the Irish Medical Organisation (IMO) has warned that the medical profession in Ireland is “under attack” and the role of doctors was being systematically undervalued.  This, he said, is contributing to an unprecedented shortage of doctors in key positions across the country.

Dr. Peadar Gilligan was delivering his inaugural address as President of the IMO at the organisation’s AGM in Killarney last evening (Saturday).  Dr. Gilligan,  who is a Consultant in Emergency Medicine in Beaumont Hospital in Dublin, said that while Irish society had very significant expectations of those who wish to become doctors, practicing doctors were routinely  dishonoured by having agreed contracts ignored, by having to tolerate different pay rates for similarly qualified doctors doing the same job and by unreasonable delays in restoring cuts imposed during the crisis compared to other groups. 

Dr. Gilligan said; “The fact that new contracts need to be negotiated for General Practitioners, NCHDs, Consultants and Public Health specialists is indicative of the fact that Doctors in Ireland currently do not feel valued.” 

Dr. Gilligan said that this issue fed directly into the unprecedented shortage of doctors in key posts across the country.  Dr. Gilligan recounted a personal experience of a colleague who resigned his post recently saying that he could no longer work in a country where he was embarrassed to tell people he was a consultant.”  He said that the consequences included 400 consultant posts unfilled nationally, GMS lists without a GP and “more resignations from the public hospital system than ever before in the history of the State.’

A Consultant in Emergency Medicine, Dr. Gilligan described the need to board admitted patients on trolleys and chairs in Emergency Departments as “an absolute outrage”.  He said overcrowding in Emergency Departments ‘costs live and must stop”.

Dr. Gilligan said Ireland was an outlier in terms of overcrowding in Emergency Departments internationally.  He called for the introduction of a 6 hour standard between the time a patient arrives in an Emergency Department and the time they are admitted or discharged.  The current average waiting time in EDs in Dublin is 14 hours.

He said; “Such a (6 hour) standard of care requires that Hospitals have adequate capacity in terms of beds, staffing, diagnostics, theatre time, and timely discharge of hospitalized patients to rehabilitation services, convalescence, nursing homes or assisted home care.”

On proposals to increase the number of beds available in the system by just over 2,500, Dr. Gilligan said that the country needs over 7,000 new beds to deal adequately with an increasing and aging population.

Dr. Gilligan said; “the 2,590 bed target is based on a series of very positive assumptions including improving health generally and major investment and reform across the health services; “to plan on the basis of all our plans working out optimally is at best fool hardy and I think we need to plan for the worst but hope for the best not just bank on the best. In short we do not just need 2590 acute hospital beds we need 7000 beds and the associated staffing levels and we need to get started on producing this capacity in our system now. “

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