Doctors warn children's hospital will struggle to attract specialists
The new National Children's Hospital is at risk of becoming "a shiny flagship" with a sub-standard service because it will not be able to attract enough specialist staff, consultants have warned.
The €1.7bn hospital, which is currently under construction on the campus of St James's Hospital in Dublin, has been seeking to recruit two radiologists in the last year but has not had suitable candidates, the annual meeting of the Irish Medical Organisation (IMO) was told.
The IMO consultants' committee claimed that it is offering doctors "inferior" terms and conditions because they will be required to work rosters involving shifts.
Consultants' committee chairman Dr Clive Kilgallen said: "If they want to change the work routine it needs to be negotiated."
Dr Trevor Duffy, a rheumatologist at Connolly Hospital in Dublin, told the meeting it amounted to inferior work conditions.
Dr Anthony O'Connor, a Dublin gastroenterologist, warned: "We could see a shining beaming building with a sub-standard service."
The first satellite centre for the hospital is to be opened in Connolly Hospital in July.
A spokeswoman for the board overseeing the hospital said yesterday that since January 1 this year the three children's hospitals at Crumlin, Temple Street and Tallaght have merged to form Children's Health Ireland (CHI).
"This is a major step forward in what will be the biggest clinical transformation ever undertaken in acute paediatric care in Ireland, with the workforces from the three hospitals coming together as one team of 3,370."
She said the plan is to open the outpatient and urgent care centre at Connolly in July and the majority of posts have now been filled.
"A total of 13 consultant posts are required and are included in the HSE National Service Plan 2019 to support services opening in the new paediatric outpatients and urgent care centre at Connolly. To date 10 of these positions have been filled and recruitment is ongoing for the remaining posts.
"There are recruitment challenges nationally, and internationally, in certain specialities such as paediatric radiology and this challenge has been experienced by CHI," she said, adding that contingency plans are being developed for radiology services at the Connolly centre.