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The IMO has written to the HSE for an update on public health medicine vacancies, noting the increased pressure on the specialty with the global Covid-19 outbreak.
Interviews have recently been held with regard to panelling a number of senior medical officer posts across the country.
Mr Val Moran, IMO Director of Industrial Relations, wrote to HSE National Director of Human Resources Ms Anne Marie Hoey on 18 February requesting information on the status of the campaign.
“As you are aware, there are also shortages at specialist in public health medicine level, particularly in the North East,” according to the letter seen by the Medical Independent (MI).
“We would also be obliged if you could let us know what plans are in place to fill such vacancies.”
Mr Moran outlined how the 2003 Labour Court agreement between the IMO, HSE and Department of Health set out specific staffing levels to be met within the eight public health departments.
This comprised 52 specialists in public health medicine and 40 senior medical officers to cover the eight departments. These levels were established at a time when the population was 3.9 million, as against the current population of 4.9 million.
“As you are aware, public health medicine is under particular pressure at present with the Covid-19 outbreak,” wrote Mr Moran.
MI has reported how the introduction of a new Sláintecare contract for consultants could lead to delays in the implementation of reforms in public health medicine.
At press time, following the increased number of Covid-19 cases in Italy, the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control rated the risk of similar clusters in other EU countries as moderate-to-high.
* (Update 2 March 2020) Since this article was written there has been one confirmed case of Covid-19 in the Republic.
The case is associated with travel from an affected area in Northern Italy, rather than contact with another confirmed case