Some foreign docs 'not up to job'
Senior consultants question ability of medics from abroad
TWO senior consultants have questioned the ability of some junior doctors recruited from India and Pakistan to work on their own in hospitals.
The consultants from Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in Drogheda, who are not publicly named, recently wrote to managers in the Health Service Executive (HSE) about their worries.
It is yet another blow to the recruitment campaign which began last spring and has resulted in doctors, invited to apply for jobs here, spending weeks waiting to be cleared to work.
The Irish Independent revealed yesterday that 95 of the doctors, who are still not cleared to work here, are receiving intern salaries of €2,521 a month while waiting to sit a screening exam later this month.
A previous group of these doctors from India and Pakistan, who were passed as fit to work after being screened by the Medical Council in August, has now taken up two-year supervised posts in several hospitals, including Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in Drogheda.
However, the consultants in the Drogheda hospital told the HSE that they had grave doubts about the ability of some of the junior doctors assigned to the hospital to "function independently" on call.
One of the consultants said he could not agree to rostering one of the doctors he mentored for on-call duty in the hospital's emergency department-- one of the busiest in the country -- or medical assessment unit due to their clinical skills and language ability, the 'Irish Medical News' reported.
The doctor said: "We give our interns 12 months to experience this acclimatisation and even then some struggle. Imagine the scenario when this is telescoped into two months for doctors who did not train in Irish medicine and are therefore still reeling from culture shock when we ask them to see 30- plus patients in a 24-hour period on call."
The doctors asked that they not employ any more of the junior doctors and allow them bring the existing recruits up to standard.
"If we recruit any more of these doctors in the short to medium term adverse clinical incidents are likely to escalate," said one of the doctors.
A spokeswoman for the HSE in the north east said : "Management in Louth Meath Hospital Group are committed to upholding good medical governance throughout our hospitals. "The clinical director and Lead Consultant Forum work to ensure that all clinical teams have the required blend of experience and appropriate skill mix to underpin safe clinical practices in all departments.
"To ensure appropriate clinical teams are in place, management in Louth Meath Hospital Group have engaged suitably qualified agency doctors to work alongside consultant and non-consultant (junior doctor) staff.
"The Medical Council, which passed the doctors as fit to work, providing supervision was given, said 236 of the junior doctor candidates passed exams in August and 30 failed. The candidate must assure the council that they have the education, training and skills to provide safe and appropriate care and must pass a clinical examination which measures competence in the areas of clinical judgment, communication and data interpretation, she added.
She said guidelines had been developed for employers of supervised doctors which highlighted that employers must have systems in place for areas including orientation, induction, effective supervision, effective clinical governance, leadership and management.