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The failure to attract consultants to “peripheral” hospital locations remains a significant challenge to the health service, according to members of the Sláintecare Implementation Advisory Council (SIAC).
“We are in a perpetuating cycle where consultants are not attracted to peripheral hospital locations where rotas, facilities, and options in these locations are much less attractive to them,” according to minutes of the SIAC’s meeting in December.
“We should work on making positions in peripheral hospitals attractive to consultants through an appropriate package of incentives.”
As previously reported, Council members at this meeting also expressed strong disagreement with Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly’s view that progressing the new regional health areas should be postponed as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. On the specific issue of consultant recruitment in the regions, Council members agreed that “there must be suitable positions for them [consultants] in the community”.
At the meeting, SIAC Chair Dr Tom Keane raised “the huge injection of funds that the system is to receive in 2021” to recruit resources across acute and community areas.
“This is at a time when the health system is facing a deficiency in availability of human resources and this includes consultants, nursing and other clinical healthcare roles right across the health system.”
On staff recruitment and retention, Dr Keane noted “we will not solve this problem solely with money. We must understand the challenges and problems and work innovatively to address them. There is a real opportunity now, given the rapid changes shown in Covid-19 and the new funding to address recruitment and retention.”
In recent weeks, the IHCA and the IMO have raised significant concerns regarding the Government’s planned implementation of the new Sláintecare consultant contract.