The IMO has called for the immediate publication of a comprehensive risk assessment which has been undertaken on the Urgent Care Centre due to open in Connolly Hospital next week. The Urgent Care Centre is being opened as part of the broader rollout of the new National Children’s Hospital.
Speaking today, Dr Peadar Gilligan, Past President of the IMO and member of the IMO Consultant Committee, warned that the failure to publish the risk assessment was causing concerns that the Urgent Care Centre was facing insurmountable obstacles that could prevent it opening next week.
“The IMO fully supports the development of enhanced services for children; however, we have very serious concerns regarding the scheduled opening of the Urgent Care Centre in Connolly Hospital on July 31st,” said Dr Gilligan. “We are now just days away from the scheduled opening, yet we have still to see a detailed and up-to-date risk assessment to confirm that the centre is fit to operate – even on the restricted basis that the Children’s Hospital Group has admitted will be necessary.”
Dr Gilligan said the HSE was finding it impossible to recruit sufficient consultants to operate the new services in light of significantly lower salaries for consultants appointed since 2012. Consultants recruited since October 2012 are earning up to €50,000 per annum less than colleagues employed before October 2012 who are doing exactly the same job. This additional pay cut on consultants was 30 per cent over and above the level of cuts imposed on all other public servants. The IMO believes that these cuts are directly linked to the over 500 empty consultant posts across the country.
According to Dr Gilligan, the blame for this situation lies solely with the Government and its “inaction” in dealing with what has been a “crisis” in recruitment for many years.
“When he was Minister for Health, our current Taoiseach Leo Varadkar insisted that the pay issue should be dealt with and agreed to the basic right of equal pay for equal work. The current Minister for Health Simon Harris also committed in April of this year to begin a process to address the issue, yet nothing has been done.
“The cost of the Children’s Hospital has consumed the political system, yet no effort has been made to address how the satellite centres and the hospital are going to be staffed or how care is going to be delivered.”
He continued: “Since 2012, we have simply not been able to attract doctors to our health service and, at the same time, our newly qualified doctors are leaving Ireland to work abroad in health systems where no discrimination exists.”
“While these sub-standard working conditions and pay discrimination exist, we will never have enough consultants to deliver timely care to the population, which means patients will be denied services and wait longer for care with all the adverse consequences that entails.”
“It is telling that even this flagship project has experienced an acute consultant recruitment crisis. The situation is inevitably going to deteriorate as waiting lists lengthen and more patients are denied care.”