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The news comes as the highest ever number of applications were received by the College for GP training intake this year. An ICGP spokesperson said 446 doctors had applied for GP training for 2019, representing the highest number to date.
“Due to shortlisting and withdrawals, we are expecting 320 doctors to attend the interview on 12 February. The number of places available will be around 200 and will shortly be confirmed.
“Access to appropriate hospital paediatrics posts remains a significant rate-limiting factor in achieving the required number of GP training places.”
Despite the huge interest, the ICGP is considering reducing the number of training posts in the South West Specialist Training Programme from 10 to eight due to the continued absence of full-time paediatricians at UHK.
If introduced, the reduction would serve as a significant blow to Government commitments to increase the number of GP training places.
It is understood that four paediatricians were appointed at UHK in September 2018 but have yet to take up their positions.
Hospital management has been unable to confirm when they will commence work. A hospital spokesperson had not issued a response at the time of going to press. Locum paediatricians, who do not provide GP training, are currently in place.
Nationally, there is a deficit of adequate paediatric training posts for GP trainees due to a lack of paediatricians in Irish hospitals.
Most GP training schemes are struggling to get paediatricians to provide training, Dr Eamonn Shanahan, ICGP Chair of Postgraduate Training, told MI.
“What is happening locally in Tralee is a reflection of what is happening nationally,” Dr Shanahan said. “There are problems in other specialties too, but mostly the problem is affecting paediatric training.”