Patients at risk from shortage of junior doctors
PATIENTS who suffer a heart attack are in danger of presenting to hospital emergency departments with no doctor to treat them.
There is also a risk for pregnant women in need of an emergency caesarean section, or patients needing emergency surgery, hospital consultants warned yesterday.
They were outlining the crisis situations that could arise if hundreds of trainee doctor posts in hospitals remain unfilled.
Dr Paul Oslizlok, president of the Irish Hospital Consultants Association, said it would not be possible to provide proper levels of cover in the evenings and weekends if the predicted shortage of between 300 to 600 doctors were to emerge.
The main shortages are likely to occur in A&E departments, obstetrics and anaesthesia, the senior doctors predicted.
The worst-hit areas would be regional hospitals, which would not be able to provide proper cover in these areas.
The problem has arisen because of the decision of the HSE to reduce by 1,200 the number of training posts for junior doctors.
Health Minister Mary Harney said yesterday the issue of patient safety was paramount and the matter was being dealt with by the chief medical officer and HSE officials.