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Model 3 hospitals ‘facing the abyss’

A strong warning about the future of model 3 hospitals within the Irish health service was made at the Millin Meeting, which was held in the RCSI earlier this month.

Speaking about his experience of model 3 hospitals in the regions, Prof Peter M Murchan, Consultant General and Colorectal Surgeon in South Tipperary General Hospital and University Hospital Limerick, said that model 3 hospitals are “facing the abyss” if capacity issues are not addressed and young surgeons are not attracted to these hospitals.

He proposed that wages should be increased for some posts to encourage surgeons into working in the regions and model 3 hospitals.

“Let’s pay them more. This common [consultant] contract is a nonsense in my view… we should not [all] be paid the same.”

He said innovative ways need to be found to encourage the best young surgeons to come and work in model 3 hospitals across the country. He highlighted the draft system in American sports, where the lowest-performing professional sports team gets the first choice on the best player leaving college.

He added that model 3 hospitals are facing many of the same challenges as other hospitals, such as capacity problems, low staffing numbers and emergency department overcrowding.

Mr Murchan also mentioned what he described as the “elephant in the room”, which was “the clinical paralysis resulting from litigation risk”.

This year’s Millin Meeting was titled ‘De-Risking Surgery: For Surgeons and Patients’ and welcomed a range of speakers from across the island. Speaking at the beginning of the event, Mr Kenneth Mealy, President of the RCSI, said “risk management is always challenging, especially in a never-ending era of fiscal constraint and less-than-ideal healthcare structure and increasing societal expectations”. 

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