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A&E Crisis highlights need for more Medical places -Anderson

22 August, 2011 - by Maeve McLaughlin


 

Sinn Féin’s Martina Anderson MLA (Foyle) commenting on the current debate on A&E services has said that it highlights the need for an increase in the number of medical graduates.

Martina Anderson said:

“This crisis is not limited to the current issue around A&E services at the City Hospital, Belfast, it is affecting these services throughout Ireland. The problem is the same whether in Belfast, Monaghan, Donegal or Derry. The common denominator seems to be that where the services are either being closed or seriously curtailed is the shortage of Junior Doctors and Consultants.

“Sinn Féin has long advocated an increase in the number of Medical places available at our Universities and particularly for locating a Medical School at Magee University Campus in Derry.

"As far back as December 2004 my colleague and Former Foyle MLA, Mitchel McLaughlin met with then Provost of Magee, Professor Tom Fraser to discuss this issue. Among a range of issues discussed was the need for additional Medical training facilities and the case for such a faculty at Magee that would attract entrants from across the island.

“I have also advocated the establishment of a Medical Faculty at Magee as part of the much needed expansion of the campus.

"At present only Queens in Belfast and Trinity in Dublin offer Medical Training and the limited number of places available cannot hope to cater for the increased need for Doctors in our Hospitals. Although those Doctors recruited from other countries do an excellent job it should not be a substitute for training our own Medical staff.

"Our proposal is based on untilising the local Hospitals on either side of the border (Altnagelvin and Letterkenny) and recruiting on a 50/50 basis in each jurisdiction, a recognition that health care is best served through integrated planning on an all-Ireland basis. Logistically and economically this approach makes sense.

“Not only does the shortage of junior doctors affect the quality of care but many of them are being asked to work longer hours, often unpaid, because of staff shortfalls.

"I believe that many junior doctors feel compelled to work extra hours, to make up for the inadequacies of the health system and staff shortfalls. This practice can only lead to a further reduction in the quality of care provided.
 
"We cannot neglect training our own young doctors. It is an accepted fact that Medical Students generally enter practice or take up positions following graduation in hospitals in close proximity to where they study. The health service is already struggling to cope with the demands placed on them. Many hospitals are finding it increasingly difficult to recruit sufficient junior doctors and consultants from overseas to fill vacancies caused by a shortage of local medical graduates.

"I would encourage the Minister, in conjunction with the Irish government to give serious consideration to establishing this Medical Faculty at Magee to help address a situation that can only get worse if we don’t produce the required number of Medical graduates.”

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