15% of junior docs are agency staff

The HSE has spent €8.6 million so far this year on employing agency medical staff to fill vacant hospital junior doctor posts.

The total paid out last year on agency hospital doctors was €18.4 million, according to figures provided by the HSE to Senator Colm Burke of Fine Gael at the Oireachtas Health Committee this week.

A report on junior doctor posts to the Committee said there were 31 doctor vacancies in hospitals at present, following the normal July doctor changeover. The HSE said this summer, all hospitals have been able to secure sufficient numbers of doctors to resolve recruitment issues and maintain existing services.

At present, around 15% of junior doctor posts are made up of agency staff.

According to the HSE report, some hospitals have been employing doctors at consultant level to ensure a greater level of senior clinical decision making, in the face of junior doctor recruitment difficulties.

There are currently nearly 5,000 junior doctor posts in Irish hospitals, according to the HSE.

Health Minister James Reilly yesterday said the current system under which junior work was 'perverse'.

He said it was unacceptable to ask juniors to make life and death decisions after working long hours.

The Minister said it was also wrong that our system educated the brightest and best doctors yet forced them abroad and then had to recruit doctors from developing countries to work here.

Dr Reilly has established a working group to look at alternative career and working systems that could be put in place for junior medics.

However, the IMO said it was difficult not to be cynical about the Minister's comments given his lack of action on junior doctor working conditions since he took office.

Meanwhile, the HSE also told the Oireachtas Committee that only 60 out of 117 hospital consultant posts advertised since June of last year have to been filled.




[Posted: Fri 26/07/2013]


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