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The future of obstetrics and gynaecology ‘not optimistic’, AGM told

Trainees in obstetrics and gynaecology feel they are working in an “increasingly negative environment”, a Cork-based consultant warned delegates at the recent IMO AGM in Killarney.

Speaking at the Thursday evening session of the AGM Dr Suzanne O’Sullivan, Consultant in Obstetrics and Gynaecology in Cork University Hospital outlined some “worrying” results from a recent survey conducted of trainees within the specialty.

Dr O’Sullivan told delegates that conducting the survey was prompted by her own experience.

“I have been involved in training for the last 17 years,” said Dr O’Sullivan. “I have seen first-hand how the climate is changing and what the impact is on doctors, on trainees and midwifes in our services. I am really worried about the inevitable impact on patient care.

“In the last number of years it has struck me as quite sad that if one of my daughters came to me and expressed an interest in a career in obstetrics and gynaecology or even a career generally in medicine, I would have serious reservations. That led myself and colleagues involved in training… to look at [organising a] detailed survey of our trainees to try and capture the reality that our trainees and our workforce are facing.”

Dr O’Sullivan took delegates through some of the results of the survey of trainees.

“When we asked them about whether they felt media representation of the speciality was fair and balanced, 93 per cent of our trainees disagreed. Some 86 per cent did not feel that the impact of media on patients was positive. Some 72 per cent did not feel the impact of the media on midwives and nurses was positive. Some 62 per cent did not feel the media gave a positive impression of our speciality to medical students,” said Dr O’Sullivan.

“If we don’t have our medical students interested we have no future,” she added.

Dr O’Sullivan said that 82 per cent of respondents felt that the media portrayal of obstetrics and gynaecology increased their fear of adverse outcomes and 86 per cent said it increased their fear of litigation

“We found that 90 per cent of trainees have suffered abusive behaviour from patients or their family members and friends. Some 50 per cent of those were experiencing this on a regular basis.”

Dr O’Sullivan added that: “I love my job, it is one of the most fantastic jobs in the world and I am privileged to be able to do it… but the future is not looking terribly optimistic at the moment.”

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