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Reform of consultant appointment process will be ‘high priority’

Speaking at a seminar for NCHDs at the IMO AGM in Killarney, Prof Murray said the decrease in the number of approved consultant posts in the last two years was “disappointing”. According to information presented by Prof Murray, there were 174 consultant posts approved in 2017, compared to 195 in 2016 and 288 in 2015.

“That is disappointing to me; that is something I am going to make a very high priority, to see what we can do to facilitate the appointment of consultants in a more easily-negotiated way.”

He outlined that Ireland required “far more consultants and general practitioners” and that “we need to look carefully at the ratio of NCHDs to others within the health service”.

Figures presented by Prof Murray showed that Ireland has 77 consultants per 100,000 population, compared with 106 in the UK. He said the number of non-training NCHDs had increased by 50 per cent in the last four-to-five years, but specialists and trainees should instead be the focus of substantial increases.

He said the “big drive” in relation to non-training NCHDs was a reflection of European Working Time Directive (EWTD) implementation and there had been a “failure to plan adequately in relation to that”.

Prof Murray said a working group would be established on the issue of non-training NCHDs. He reiterated his support for an amendment to legislation that would allow non-EU NCHDs to access the trainee division of the medical register where their internship was not deemed equivalent.

His focus would also be on progressing outstanding issues affecting trainees, including protected training time, allocation of non-core tasks, educational refunds and non-payment of overtime.

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