Increasing the number of consultant doctors must be a priority - Louise O'Reilly TD
Speaking this afternoon in the Dáil Sinn Féin Health spokesperson Louise O’Reilly TD warned the Minister for Health that a failure to increase the number of consultant doctors in the health service would see waiting lists grow and the health service crippled.
Teachta O’Reilly said:
“The recruitment and retention crisis is acutely felt in the area of consultant doctors. Currently, there are over 480 consultant doctor vacancies in hospitals across the State, up from 349 last July.
“The fallout of this shortage is that the safety of patients in Irish hospitals is being compromised and the ability to deliver services is reduced.
“In an effort to hide this crisis the HSE has either employed doctors who are not on the specialist register to work as consultants or over-relied on temporary and expensive agency doctors, costing the health service nearly a billion euro since 2010.
“As regards services – we only have to look at the waiting lists – currently, more than 550,000 patients are waiting to see a consultant for an outpatient appointment and a further 70,000 who have been assessed by a consultant are awaiting follow-on treatment.
“This cannot continue, we need to see measures to make the health service an attractive place for consultant doctors to work again, and the reality is that the pay disparity for new entrant consultants has to be addressed immediately.
“The government have tried every other way and it has ended up costing more with worse results – the Minister needs to sit down with the doctors' representative bodies and work out a solution to this problem, because it is patients who will continue to suffer if he doesn’t."