Shortage of doctors to prolong A&E wait
Patients are facing longer waiting times in several hospital A&E departments from next month as a shortage of junior doctors looms, senior medics warned yesterday.
They predicted the shortage of experienced doctors threatens patients with delayed treatment and potential harm.
The lack of junior doctors will leave a number of regions struggling to provide 24-hour cover, the doctors said.
The emergency medicine doctors said several departments are already trying to cope with a shortage of junior doctors, whose posts could not be filled last January when the last six-month training stint began.
However, the next round, which will see a new set of junior doctor recruits from July, is looking bleak for several hospitals, said Dr John McInerney, spokesman for the Irish Association of Emergency Medicine.
The problem faced by the Health Service Executive (HSE) is not funding but finding doctors to fill the posts, despite a global recruitment campaign.
Dr McInerney said yesterday: "The precipitous curtailment of services due to medical staffing shortage will be to the detriment of patient care."
Asked to comment, a spokeswoman for the HSE said that it had taken a range of actions to address the vacancies and ensure the impact on services was minimised.