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Appointment of non-specialist doctors to consultancy posts causing a myriad of problems for patients – O’Reilly

18 May, 2017 - by Louise O'Reilly TD

Speaking this morning, Sinn Féin Health spokesperson Louise O’Reilly TD stated that the HSE practice of appointing doctors not on the Medical Council’s specialist register to fill temporary consultant positions for which they did not possess essential specialist training, skills, and expertise is not only compromising patient care and safety, but is also putting patients at risk of having to completely cover medical costs given that some health insurance companies are refusing to cover visits to these consultants not on the specialist register.

Deputy O’Reilly said:

“When this story became public knowledge, I outlined the reasons why I was extremely concerned about this practice given that, first and foremost, it was putting patient care and safety at risk. I also called on the Minister for Health Simon Harris to immediately publish all information relating to qualifications and appointments on the number of consultant posts filled by doctors who were not on the specialist register for the speciality in which they were practising so as the scale of the situation could be gauged.

“Not that this situation was not serious enough in that the HSE response to their inability to recruit and retain doctors of all levels is to compromise patient care, the most recent revelation is that at least one of the country’s biggest health insurers has stated that they will not cover any public hospitals for visits by its subscribers to consultants who do not have specialist qualifications in the area in which they are practising.

“The patients who have already visited these non-specialist doctors operating in a consultancy capacity could now be pursued by hospitals if their insurance firm refuses to cover the costs.

“The majority of people in this situation would not have known that the consultant they were visiting for their emergency health needs were not on the Medical Council specialist register. Like all of us they would have believed that the HSE was doing their job correctly and that the specialist consultant they were visiting was actually a specialist.

“Now these patients not only have to deal with a situation where they may be worried and questioning the advice they were given, but they may also be left in a situation where a hefty medical bill comes through their door all because the HSE and the Minister for Health are failing to discharge their duties competently.

“The Minister for Health and the HSE need to immediately rectify this situation and also need to address the serious issues steaming from such gross negligence.” 

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