The IMO has called on the Government to ensure no doctor is left without a placement either during or after the Covid-19 pandemic following a survey of NCHDs that revealed problems in securing a job. These difficulties especially apply to incoming senior house officers (SHOs),
Three-quarters (74 per cent) of respondents who said they were having difficulty securing a job are incoming SHOs who are due to take up a post in July.
Speaking today, Dr Paddy Hillery, Chair of the IMO NCHD committee, said this was an opportunity for the Government to enhance the medical workforce after years of substandard resourcing.
“We are currently faced with lengthy waiting lists, far too few doctors in our health system and a potential second surge of Covid-19. The Government must firstly offer temporary consultant locum posts to all doctors who have finished training, and also ensure that no other NCHD is left without a placement to continue their training.
“With such an extreme shortage of doctors across the full spectrum of the health system, it is frankly unbelievable that the Government and Health Service Executive (HSE) would allow any doctor to slip through the cracks when our healthcare needs are so acute.”
Dr Hillery said that this offer would also help existing NCHDs who are physically and mentally exhausted in light of the Covid-19 crisis.
“Doctors across all specialties have answered the country’s call during the Covid-19 pandemic, in many cases to the detriment of their own health as they worked particularly excessive hours for the past three months. A key part of dealing with a potential second surge of Covid-19 is retaining our existing staff and attracting additional staff so that we can build a resilient workforce.
“Ultimately, this is about patients benefiting from quality care, which will not happen if junior doctors are left in limbo, unable to work and made unemployed.”
On 11 June, the Department of Health informed the Medical Independent it would “not be possible” to increase NCHD training places for the July changeover.
Under the Medical Practitioners Act 2007, the approval of training places rests with HSE National Doctors Training and Planning, which proposes annually the number to the Medical Council, noted the Department spokesperson.
“It would not be possible to increase the number in the timeframe to July. It is intended to increase the number of training places and reduce non-training places in future years. This will require additional funding.”