Urgent Care Centre for children opens

Doctors have expressed their frustration that the Urgent Care Centre for children, which has opened in Connolly Hospital this week, will have its opening hours restricted, due to a shortage of senior medical staff.

Earlier this month, the Irish Medical Organisation (IMO) expressed concern that the results of a comprehensive risk assessment on the new centre had not yet been published.

The Urgent Care Centre is being opened as part of the broader rollout of the new National Children's Hospital, which will be located at St James's Hospital in Dublin's city centre. However, according to Dr Peadar Gilligan of the IMO, the failure to publish this risk assessment was a cause for concern.

He pointed out that the HSE was facing great difficulty in recruiting sufficient consultants to operate the new services for children, due to what the IMO describes as pay discrimination.

Consultants recruited since October 2012 are earning up to €50,000 per annum less than colleagues employed before October 2012, who are doing exactly the same job. The IMO believes that these cuts are directly linked to the more than 500 empty consultant posts across the country.

"The cost of the Children's Hospital has consumed the political system, yet no effort has been made to address how the satellite centres and the hospital are going to be staffed or how care is going to be delivered.

"Since 2012, we have simply not been able to attract doctors to our health service and, at the same time, our newly qualified doctors are leaving Ireland to work abroad in health systems where no discrimination exists," Dr Gilligan said.

Despite these reservations, the centre opened on July 31, however the IMO described it as a "matter of considerable frustration that these services will not operate to the full extent of what was originally planned in the model of care agreed".

The services will open from 10am to 5pm, Monday to Friday, rather than the planned 8am to 6pm. In the original plans, the centre was to open from 8am to midnight, seven days a week.

The IMO has said that it has worked with management "to put in place a number of risk mitigations to allow the service to open on a restricted basis".

"However, unless and until the recruitment problem is sorted, there can be no further expansion of children's services at this centre or in terms of the broader development of satelite clinics and the new Children's Hospital," the organisation insisted.

It added that the recruitment problem "is of the Government's making and only the Government can resolve it".


[Posted: Fri 26/07/2019]


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