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IMO survey highlights deficits for SMOs in public health departments

Lack of clerical support and rota cover are major problems for senior medical officers (SMOs) working in public health departments, according to a new survey from the IMO.

The information contained in the survey is to be used for compiling a vision statement for the group, with the IMO stating it would like to see an increase in SMO membership.

According to the results, 67 per cent of respondents described the lack of clerical support as a significant problem.

Time to attend continuing medical education (CME) events was limited in 42 per cent of respondents, which was cited as due to lack of rota cover (68 per cent).

However, morale among the majority of SMOs is “reasonable” to “good” (68 per cent).

Other work that SMOs would like to be involved with was in the area of environmental health (29 per cent), health promotion (21 per cent), health service planning/policy development (14 per cent) and project management (14 per cent).

Based on the survey results, the IMO recommended that there should be a clear, defined career pathway for SMOs and the opportunity to engage in specialised areas of work.

The Organisation also called for clerical/administrative support to be made available to support the SMO role and for an increase in staffing numbers.

“This issue of vacancies at SMO level must be addressed by the HSE,” according to the Organisation.

“Under the 2003 LRC Agreement, there were to be 40 WTE [whole-time equivalent] SMOs working in the public health departments. The number of WTE SMOs is currently measured at 28.57, with a head-count of 34. The IMO have consistently raised the issue of recruitment with the HSE and a further six approved SMO posts are currently in recruitment.”

The total number sent the survey was 32 and a response rate of 59 per cent was obtained.

Only 33 per cent of respondents were IMO members at the time of the survey, according to the Organisation.

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