Tuesday 27 September 2016

Minister must wake up to crisis in recruiting emergency medics

Published 18/05/2016 | 02:30

Wicklow Fine Gael TD Simon Harris, the newly appointed Health Minister. Photo: Tom Burke
Wicklow Fine Gael TD Simon Harris, the newly appointed Health Minister. Photo: Tom Burke

On behalf of Irish expatriate emergency medicine consultants in Australia, I would like to draw to the attention of Health Minister Simon Harris the ongoing crisis in the recruitment of senior doctors to emergency departments in Ireland.

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In the last 12 months, the state of Victoria in Australia, with a population of 5.5 million people, has appointed six Irish university-trained consultants in emergency medicine.

This situation exists in parallel with multiple unfilled emergency medicine consultant posts in Ireland. Recent research has shown that 92 trainee emergency medicine doctors currently working in Australia originate from Ireland.

The consensus among those of us who have worked extensively in Irish emergency departments as frontline staff prior to emigrating is that current conditions in Ireland are untenable.

It is widely accepted that Irish emergency department crowding is worsening, and staff morale is consequently low - with ongoing issues of recruitment and retention of medical and nursing grades.

The longer that Irish-trained doctors and nurses stay away, the more likely they are not to return in the future. The challenge is now before the new Minister for Health, Simon Harris, to enhance the attractiveness of emergency medicine as a fulfilling and sustainable career option in Ireland.

Dr Eoin Fogarty, FRCEM

Victoria, Australia

Relocation - to lovely Leitrim

I attended the 'Leitrim Economic Renaissance' forum organised by Leitrim County Council in the InterContinental Hotel in Dublin 4 recently, and was astonished by what I heard and saw.

Three Leitrim-based companies selling into European, Australian and US markets made presentations outlining their operations to date and plans for the future.

These firms currently employ approximately 600 people and plan to employ several hundred additional workers in the next year.

Another speaker produced figures from a report showing that employees want to work in Leitrim - where they can purchase a home, have easy access to their place of employment, become part of a local community and have their children educated in local schools.

Information was produced showing that Leitrim has affordable accommodation, broadband in the bigger towns and a large amount of top-of-the-range office space and car parking at very attractive prices.

All the speakers referred to the huge loyalty of their staff, and their very low turnover - a very important consideration if you are an employer.

Also, in just over two hours by train you can get to Connolly Station in Dublin from Carrick-on-Shannon. It takes me an hour to get from Blackrock to Dublin's Merrion Gates.

Based on what I heard, employers should consider moving to locations such as Leitrim, where they will benefit from lower employee costs, lower office costs and loyal staff.

You can imagine the benefits - increasing school numbers and the rejuvenation of our towns and communities.

With Dublin bursting at the seams, it makes sense to move jobs there. Move the jobs and the employees will follow. I would like to see a change of mindset so that companies will consider such counties a more than suitable place to set up their business.

Eamonn Duignan

Killiney, Co Dublin

Keeping out of the Brexit debate

I understand that the Irish embassy in London is proposing to hold meetings with Irish nationals living in the UK regarding the coming EU referendum, and that it will be looking to promote the 'Remain' case in these meetings.

As an Irish national living in the UK, I'm disgusted that my country should interfere in the voting of another sovereign state. They would be the first to complain if the UK were to do the same in the Republic.

This action could jeopardise Irish nationals' ability to vote in general elections here if it is deemed that they could exert influence.

I call on my country to step back from such actions - it is unseemly. And, what is more, they have enough problems forming their own government without interfering in others.

John Bergin

Oxton, Wirral, UK

Reports are inherently fallible

All these reports about the whistleblower allegations written by judges and retired judges and other so-called learned people are taken as the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth by the media and politicians alike.

Politicians, being what they are, will never question or disagree with them.

The subjects of these reports are then set upon by the media and politicians seeking clarifications, comments, responses, etc. One example of this is the Garda Commissioner.

The question is - should these reports be taken as gospel? After all, these judges are appointed by politicians.

These reports should be taken as reports presented to politicians by learned people appointed by politicians.

They were produced by people, and therefore are fallible. Politicians, seeing a populist opportunity to look intelligent, then jump on the bandwagon.

Calling for inquiries and reports is a way for politicians to shift a problem away from themselves when they don't want to deal with a situation - or haven't a clue how to deal with it.

They do this with no regard for anyone who might be affected, either rightly or wrongly.

Joe Dixon

Co Meath

A healthy democracy in action

I applaud Boris Johnson for his sincerity and straightforwardness - and at the same time I laud those who accuse him of being a hysterical farce. This is what makes a healthy democracy.

I personally found the Brexit debates to be emphatic, informative and inspiring.

Both sides in the debate are evoking history, transcending cultures and communities and using linguistics as a potent weapon to reach out to wide swathes of potential voters.

This is a genuine democracy: the country will have the opportunity to showcase its democratic credentials, and people will exercise their democratic rights in free and fair elections away from tanks, military personnel and the barrels of guns.

It's a far cry indeed from the referendum on the Crimean annexation, and other elections elsewhere that were marred with shootings, assassinations, detentions, rapes, vote-rigging and electoral fraud.

Dr Munjed Farid Al Qutob

London NW2, UK

Irish Independent

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