Recruitment Crisis amongst Doctors threatens patient care
The Minister for Health must acknowledge a recruitment crisis amongst Doctors and take urgent steps to address the issue.
As reported in the Irish Times, the HSE has now confirmed that there are 350 vacant consultant posts in the public health sector though the IMO believe the number is likely to be closer to 500. In General Practice, 700 GPs are due to retire in the coming years and younger GPs are emigrating. The reality is that our inability to recruit and retain doctors is having negative implications for the provision of timely patient care. Waiting lists, which are already intolerably long will get longer and many more patients will struggle to find and enlist with a GP as practices continue to close to new patients.
The causes of this manpower crisis are not new and the IMO has warned for many years of the inevitable consequence of inaction by Government. If we are to have any hope of delivering timely and appropriate care to patients we must take action to stem the tide of emigration right across the medical profession.
New Consultants have had to face a unilateral 30% cut compared to their colleagues based purely on when they were hired not on their value to the service. This is unfair, inequitable and unsustainable and must be reversed now.
All publicly funded services suffered during the recession, but GP services suffered particularly harsh cuts with a 38% cut which has undermined the financial model supporting General Practice. Practicing GPs are retiring and younger GPs do not see a viable future in Ireland.
Public Health Specialists:
Public Health Specialists , who undergo specialist training, are not being treated as the Consultants and are not being remunerated appropriately which is exacerbating the fact that in excess of 30% of such posts are unfilled nationally. If Ireland wants to attract and retain specialists in Public Health and to develop the strategic population health model our country needs then we must acknowledge these specialists are Consultants in Public Health.
And to complete the circle, we have had various reports this past week of young NCHDs – the very future of our health services – facing ongoing problems in their intern year trying to get paid their due entitlements particularly in respect of overtime.
Speaking today Dr Peadar Gilligan, President of the IMO said “The recruitment and retention problem in Ireland is now at crisis point. We are already far short of the number of doctors we need in the system to care for patients and it is getting worse. Government must stop burying its head in the sand and actually engage constructively to tackle this problem.”