Minister to probe claims top surgeon quit over cuts
HEALTH Minister Dr James Reilly said yesterday said he will investigate claims that a leading surgeon had resigned from his hospital post due to cutbacks.
The minister was responding to claims made by nurses from University College Hospital in Galway that colorectal surgeon Myles Joyce had threatened to return to work in the United States.
Last night, the chairperson of the HSE West regional health forum confirmed that Mr Joyce had resigned from his position at the hospital and that his resignation had been accepted.
Cllr Padraic Conneely told the Irish Independent that he had attended a meeting of the forum's hospitals committee on Tuesday and asked the acting director of operations for HSE West if it was true that a leading colorectal surgeon had resigned from the hospital.
Mr Conneely, a former mayor of Galway, said he had since been in touch with the minister to express his own concerns.
"This man is an expert in his field and specialises in complex recurrences of bowel cancer. He handed in his resignation last week," he said.
"He had worked at the renowned Cleveland Clinic and came to the Galway hospital 15 months ago following the work of Prof Tom Keane in setting up centres of excellence in the treatment of cancer patients.
"Now he has handed in his resignation out of sheer frustration. He had been consistently writing to hospital management, seeking to have the problem sorted out. He wanted to do the job he was being paid to do, but could not do so because he was not being given sufficient theatre time to carry out operations."
Mr Conneely fears Mr Joyce's resignation may have a knock-on effect for other specialists similarly frustrated .
"Why would anyone give up a top job abroad to come back to Ireland and find that they cannot carry out the work they were trained to do?" he asked.
Delegates at the annual meeting of the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) claimed the surgeon was frustrated at the lack of access to operating theatres. He also had a shortage of theatre nurses and lack of in-patient beds.
"I could not blame someone if they have been left 15 months without an operating theatre," said the minister. "That is scandalous and something I will be looking into straight away."
A spokesperson for the hospital said last night it would not be commenting on the matter.