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Anaesthesiology will be focus of upcoming NDTP workforce plan

By David Lynch - 21st Jan 2024

NDTP

A new anaesthesiology workforce plan has been completed and is expected to be published shortly, this newspaper has been told.

The report titled: Medical Workforce Planning for the Specialties of Anaesthesiology: An Expert Informed Review 2023-2038 will be available online during the first quarter of this year, according to a spokesperson for HSE National Doctors Training and Planning (NDTP).

The NDTP’s spokesperson also told the Medical Independent (MI) that it expects to publish workforce plans “for the dual training specialties of medicine and for specialties of surgery in 2024”.

“It is planned that a full suite of medical workforce plans will be available by 2025,” the spokesperson added.

In July 2022, this newspaper reported that there was insufficient anaesthesiology manpower to fully staff out-of-hours rosters in four out of six model 3 hospitals with obstetrics and paediatrics units, according to a HSE internal audit. The audit report, dated March 2022, aimed to determine the level of assurance that could be provided to management for a random sample of six such sites in relation to anaesthesiology cover and the measures in place to address any shortfall.

As reported by MI in June 2023, the most recent NDTP specialty-specific workforce report focused on the specialties of pathology.

According to this report, titled: Medical Workforce Planning for the Specialties of Pathology: An Expert Stakeholder Informed Review, a shortage in consultant pathologists was resulting in “onerous” on-call rotas. Some sites did not have optimum consultant cover and there were long outpatient waiting lists in certain specialties. There was a current demand for an additional 173.6 whole-time equivalent (WTE) posts, particularly in microbiology and haematology.

Demand for consultants was projected to increase at a rate of 2.7 per cent per year to 2035 requiring an additional 191 WTEs.

The report recommended increasing the intake number of higher specialist trainees from 23 in 2022 to 70 in 2028. With the exception of haematology, there were very limited non-training posts that could be converted into training posts to accommodate the expansion in pathology trainees.

Constraints to increasing the pathology medical workforce, such as the availability of buildings, and funding for additional training and consultant posts, were not considered in the report. The broader scientific and administrative staffing of the pathology services were also not considered within its scope.

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