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“We have a very serious recruitment crisis,” said Dr Gabrielle Colleran, Consultant Paediatric Radiologist in Temple Street Children’s University Hospital. Dr Colleran, who is also a new member of the IHCA Council, said the difference in pay for new-entrant consultants was a significant reason for this crisis.
“We see that across all the different disciplines represented today. For us, the issue is more acute in Temple Street… [the new children’s hospital] is the single largest capital investment this century, and it’s crucial for our children that this is a success,” she said, speaking directly to Minister of State with special responsibility for Mental Health and Older People Jim Daly, who was also in attendance at the AGM.
“We are making a great job with the building, making a great job with the satellites, but the success will be based on the people and staff. Now the situation is that as of two weeks ago, consultant recruitment is on the risk register in the Children’s Hospital Group because the Board recognises there is a serious issue with attracting highly-qualified consultants…
“Our bigger concern is that we will either not have enough people to staff the hospital to open it in time, or, and this might actually be worse, we will staff it with people who meet a minimum eligibility criteria and we will not have a competitive process [to fill positions].
In response, Minister Daly said that he was not in a position to make policy announcements at the AGM.
However, he said to Dr Colleran: “You raise a really serious issue about competitiveness, because if we don’t have competition for these posts, the standards will drop… we will end up settling for second best… I’m not directly responsible in this area.”
The Minister said he understood that Department of Health and the HSE are working on trying to “come up with a solution to this issue”.
Minister Daly was in attendance at the conference instead of Minister for Health Simon Harris, who was originally due to attend. On Minister’s Harris’s non-attendance, a Department of Health spokesperson told the Medical Independent before the AGM: “Owing to a necessary restructuring of the Minister’s diary, the Minister is no longer available to attend on the Friday or Saturday of the IHCA conference.”