'Unsafe' Children's Hospital satellite centre to open despite medics' fears
The first satellite centre linked to the new National Children's Hospital is due to open next week despite claims by paediatricians that it does not have enough staff - thereby making it "unsafe".
The centre in Connolly Hospital will provide a minor injury unit and outpatient facility that will eventually be linked to the €1.7bn main campus at St James's Hospital when it opens in 2023.
A group of paediatricians wrote to Children's Health Ireland, which oversees youth hospitals, and said not enough specialists in emergency medicine, radiology and laboratory medicine had been recruited. They said the opening on Wednesday should be postponed.
A spokeswoman for Children's Health Ireland said the centre was being opened on a phased basis. Outpatient services will run from 8am to 6pm, Monday to Friday.
"This phasing allows us to monitor and review our processes, provide on-the-job training for staff and, above all else, assessing and monitoring patient safety. Over time, the urgent care centre will move to seven days a week, 8am to 8pm," she added.
"We will continue to liaise with all relevant stakeholders...on the hours, keeping them informed as the service hours expand."
She said there were currently just over 5,000 children on waiting lists for general paediatric outpatient appointments.
"It is expected that we will see 500 patients during August as a result of the additional capacity with the opening of this new facility, which will contribute to significant reductions in general paediatric waiting lists," she added.
Doctors have blamed the difficulty in recruiting specialists on the 30pc pay gap in salary between new recruits and longer-serving consultants.
A meeting between managers and consultants yesterday to discuss concerns and operational plans was described as "constructive". They will meet again on Monday.