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Hundreds of consultancy posts being filled on a temporary basis – O’Reilly

28 June, 2017 - by Louise O'Reilly TD


Speaking this morning, Sinn Féin TD and Health spokesperson Louise O’Reilly has said that information released to members of the Health Committee ahead of today’s meeting with the Minister for Health and the Health Service Executive highlight a worrying number of approved consultant posts being filled on a temporary basis.

Deputy O’Reilly said:

“The information received by members of the Health Committee highlighted a worrying number of approved consultant posts being filled on a temporary basis. According to the HSE there are 201 approved consultant posts being filled on a temporary basis in our public and voluntary hospitals.

“Nearly a quarter of these approved posts filled on a temporary basis are in the area of Psychiatry. This is a completely unacceptable situation given that we already know that Community Mental Health Teams for both adult and child and teen mental health services are dramatically understaffed, operating with only 78% and 53% of the necessary staff, respectively.

“This information is even more worrying given that last week it was revealed to me in a response to a Parliamentary Question that there are 128 doctors who do not hold the specialist division registration but are nonetheless operating in the position as consultants in the health service.

“Overall, this information further highlights the inability of the health service to recruit and retain doctors of all levels. Resultantly, we end up with a situation where hospitals have to fill hundreds of posts on a temporary basis or they appoint doctors as consultants who do not have the requisite skills.

“On one hand, the hiring of not specialist doctors to consultancy posts could endanger patient safety and, on other hand, the filling of approved posts on a temporary basis results in a huge loss to the taxpayer as when a temporary post is filled by a locum doctor it is at a much greater cost to the exchequer than a permanently filled post.

“The information which has been coming out regarding the hiring and filling of consultancy posts over the past number of weeks beggars belief.

“It behoves the Minister and the HSE to immediately make a statement on this matter and to outline a plan of how they intend to address this problem and the problem of recruitment and retention which is part of the cause.” 

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