Wednesday 18 October 2017

Striking A&E locum doctors will suffer €20,000 cut in pay

Locums are paid more than permanent medics in hospitals. Stock picture
Locums are paid more than permanent medics in hospitals. Stock picture

Eilish O'Regan and David Raleigh

Locum doctors who have stopped working in emergency departments stand to suffer a pay cut of around €20,000 under the reduced rates imposed by the HSE.

Patients in several hospitals suffered delays on trolleys as A&Es continued to struggle yesterday after around 20 locum doctors - freelance medics supplied by agencies - did not turn up for shifts for a third day.

The Irish Independent has learned that the extent of the cut - which will save the HSE €53m - is far more extensive that previously highlighted.

Locum doctors who do a day shift in a hospital will have their pay cut by €10 an hour but the reduction is as high as €13.20 an hour for Sunday and bank holiday shifts.

Dr Thomas Roux, a South African doctor who worked as a locum until last month before beginning his PhD, said the cut will leave these doctors - who get no pay for the days they are off and no pension - about €20,000 a year worse off.

"A locum A&E senior house officer who works 9-5pm, five days a week, loses €10 an hour. This works out at a loss of roughly - as locum doctors do not get paid for stipulated lunch breaks - €80 a day, €400 a week, €1,600 a month or €20,000 a year. That is just for normal hours," said Dr Roux.

He said during the year work "waxes and wanes" and sometimes a doctor who is on a night shift is only offered a day shift which they cannot work.

The HSE, which is failing to recruit enough full-time doctors and is heavily reliant on locums, said the locum is paid around 36pc more per hour than a permanent medic.

However, it is unclear if this includes payment for holidays and pensions.

The exodus of so many locum doctors comes as hospitals are braced for the winter trolley crisis.

Hospitals badly hit by the locum stoppage include Navan, Portlaoise and Tallaght.

The HSE did not respond to queries on the issue last night.

Meanwhile, University Hospital Limerick, which has the newest A&E in the country, suffered severe overcrowding yesterday due to an influx of patients.

The hospital had 69 patients on trolleys, 44 of whom were crowded into the Emergency Department.

Between 120 and 150 people presented for treatment over an average 24-hour period, the hospital said.

A spokeswoman said: "Attendances have been significantly above these levels in recent weeks and particularly in the last number of days."

The €24m A&E department only opened in recent months.

Irish Independent

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