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In July 2016, the HSE’s Acute Hospitals Division (AHD) issued the instruction that Executive pre-approval for funding was necessary in order for posts to be forwarded to the CAAC for consideration.
The number of applications considered by the CAAC in 2016 was 238, of which were 175 recommended for approval.
Between January and June 2016, a total of 140 applications were considered by the CAAC.
In contrast, between January and June 2017, a total of 77 applications were considered by the Committee, a reduction of almost 50 per cent. The number of approvals is also down by a similar extent. During the first six months of 2016, a total of 126 applications were recommended for approval. The corresponding figure this year is 62.
In the March meeting of the CAAC, Committee members voiced concern around the “very low volume of applications received since the introduction of the new requirement and the implications for members of monthly meetings with very small volumes of business transacted”, according to meeting minutes seen by MI.
It was agreed that CAAC Chair Mr Brian Purcell would write to the HSE Director General Mr Tony O’Brien to raise these concerns and the implications for services and patient safety.
At the April meeting of the CAAC, further discussion took place regarding written correspondence with the Director General, while at the May meeting it was agreed that the “marked decline in applications when compared to the same period in 2016” would be monitored closely, with members being advised of the number of potential applications to be considered in advance of each meeting.
Dr Peadar Gilligan, Consultant in Emergency Medicine in Beaumont Hospital, Dublin, sits on the CAAC as one of the IMO’s representatives and told MI the current situation is very concerning.
“It is a huge issue, particularly in the context of a country that is struggling to fill senior medical physicians in acute hospitals across the country,” Dr Gilligan said.
“Essentially, this has created yet another obstruction to the recruitment of consultants by hospitals by virtue of the fact that they have to have dedicated funding in place before they can make the application. So it is another delay in the process.”
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