128 hospital consultants lack full specialist training
Patients are being put at risk in hospitals across the country, it was claimed, as it emerged 128 doctors who do not have full specialist training are working in consultant posts.
The HSE has confirmed that these doctors are fully qualified medics, many with years of experience, but they are not on the specialist Medical Council register, which signals they have completed higher training.
Tom Ryan, president of the Irish Hospital Consultants Association, said the hiring of these doctors, due to the crisis in the recruitment of consultants, is being done "at the expense of patient safety".
He warned: "This has profound implications for patient care."
He was speaking after figures obtained from the HSE by Sinn Féin TD Louise O'Reilly revealed the number of doctors who are not on the specialist register.
The HSE said 58 were appointed before it became a requirement for hospitals in 2008, and 70 since that date.
The HSE did not name the hospitals involved, but the practice, while mostly concentrated in smaller hospitals, is now believed to be happening in the larger centres also.
Ms O'Reilly said: "Unfortunately this is as a direct result of the inability of the health service to recruit and retain doctors at all levels.
"The situation is unfair to patients and their families. It is extremely unfair that those doctors and consultants who do a job are put in a precarious position."
It is understood the doctors are working across a range of specialties including mental health, which is finding it difficult to recruit psychiatrists.
Dr Ryan said it was directly linked to the vacancies for around 400 consultant posts which cannot be filled.
The consultants' body has blamed a range of factors including the 30pc cut in salary for newly recruited specialists which is not to be addressed in the latest pay deal. The consultants also say their contract terms have been breached which shattered their trust in the HSE.