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Urgent solutions required for consultant recruitment in model 3 hospitals

By Catherine Reilly - 21st Jun 2022

hospitals

Consultant posts in model 3 hospitals must become more attractive to avoid a “service delivery crisis in a very short period of time”, the Medical Director of HSE National Doctors Training and Planning (NDTP), Prof Brian Kinirons, has told the Medical Independent (MI).

Last year, NDTP and RCSI established the model 3 hospital network project, which aims to identify ways to improve consultant recruitment at such sites. Prof Kinirons said the plan is to produce a report with recommendations by early 2023 and implement the measures at a pilot site.

Of the 807 consultants in the model 3 network, 7 per cent are in non-approved posts. This compares with 2 per cent in the model 4 network. Some 24 per cent of consultants in model 3 hospitals are not on permanent contracts, versus 12 per cent in model 4 hospitals. In addition, 7 per cent of consultants in model 3 hospitals are on the general division of the Medical Council register, compared with 1 per cent in model 4 hospitals.

The age profile of consultants in model 3 hospitals is also older.

“We know a third of all consultants in model 3 [hospitals] are over 55, versus 23 per cent in model 4. So this is an aging workforce…. In many ways the figures reflect a system that is under pressure,” said Prof Kinirons. 

“If we don’t come up with solutions, we are going to have a service delivery crisis in a very short period of time. Because this workforce will retire and if these sites are not seen to be attractive sites, then we are going to struggle.” 

On whether the recommendations would include issues around contracts, Prof Kinirons said: “The contracts themselves are national HR, they are not within the remit of NDTP, it is a completely different piece. And I am not presupposing what the recommendations will actually say but… obviously there are Sláintecare contract negotiations, which are currently ongoing. So it is not about having a defined separate contract; it is about making these sites attractive to work in for lots of different reasons, be they professional, be they personal, be it work/life balance.” 

Asked about the level of patient safety concern associated with this issue, Prof Kinirons said “if we can’t do something to incentivise recruitment, it will inevitably impact on patient care and patient safety”. 

See news interview, Medical Independent

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