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Ball in ‘Government’s court’

The ball “is in the Government’s court now” on the matter of the recruitment and retention of consultants, IHCA Vice President and Consultant Rheumatologist in Beaumont Hospital, Dublin, Dr Laura Durcan told the media at the recent IHCA AGM.

“We have outlined our concerns and the innumerable risks that our members face every day and the number of patients who are being put at risk on waiting lists every day and those within the system, which has been stretched way past capacity. So really what we are saying is that it is over to you now Minister [for Health Simon Harris] and Government to address this,” said Dr Durcan.

“Rather than us throwing out threats or the toys out of the cot, what we are saying now is the ball is in your court. You have to come back to us, that is where we are at.”

Also speaking to the media Dr Gabrielle Colleran, the IHCA’s other Vice President and Consultant Paediatric Radiologist in Children’s Health Ireland, Temple Street, and the National Maternity Hospital, Holles Street, said: “Let’s call a spade a spade. 565,000 people waiting for an outpatient appointment, some of those people are getting worse while waiting, some of them will have a worse outcome because they have waited three or four years. Some of those people will die because of that wait. We don’t know how many people that affects.

“But obviously if you cannot access care and you get worse, there is the risk of that. Even if that is less than 1 per cent of those people.

“If I am negligent in my duty as a doctor to act [in a timely fashion] to intervene for patients I would appropriately be referred to the Medical Council.”

However, Dr Colleran, who is a Medical Independent columnist, said that politicians do not face the same consequences.

During her address to the IHCA AGM, Dr Durkan said that it was her personal experience that the addition of just one consultant to a hospital department can have a major impact on waiting lists.

“We have the unprecedented scenario where 20 per cent of our posts are unfilled and the scenario where people do not apply for consultancy posts,” said Dr Durkan. 

“I’m sure lots of you in this room went through very competitive processes in years gone by to get the consultancy posts. It was not unheard of to have 30 applicants for a consultant post in the past, people wanted to get home from wherever they were. Now we are in a position where we are delighted if anyone applies for them, and often nobody applies for them.”

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