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Hospital Consultants shortage must be addressed urgently

17 January, 2005

Sinn Féin health spokesperson, Upper Bann MLA Cllr John O'Dowd, has said that the recruitment of over one hundred hospital consultants across the whole range of specialist disciplines within the North's health service must become an urgent priority action for NIO minister, Angela Smith.

The Upper Bann MLA said,

"In response to a recent written question which I put to her concerning the current vacancy levels for hospital consultants across all Health Trusts in the North, I have been amazed to learn that 119 vacancies for hospital consultants presently exist within seventeen out of eighteen Trusts.

"This scandalously high level of vacancies is unquestionably contributing to unnecessary stress and additional burdens being placed upon existing medical staff. It is also a major contributory factor in relation to the high numbers on patient waiting lists for treatment.

"There is a clear responsibility and duty upon Angela Smith, as the NIO health minister, to intervene in order to ensure that immediate action is taken to address this unacceptable and totally avoidable situation. Where necessary, that intervention must include action that ensures additional funding being made available to Trusts to enable them to fill these vacancies, and should also include an immediate ending of any freeze which the Department may have imposed upon Trusts in relation to the release of recruitment and development funding.

"I have no doubt that the recruitment and placement of these 119 hospital consultants would have a major and immediate positive impact upon the provision and delivery of heath service treatment for patients across the entire range of medical specialities." ENDS

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