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Sunday 13 October 2019

Hospitals need 140 junior medics to replace leaving trainees

Eilish O'Regan Health Correspondent

PUBLIC hospitals need to fill 140 vacant junior doctor posts next month as the health service copes with an exodus of trainee medics.

Junior doctors normally work six-month stints in different hospitals -- but not all of them can be replaced on time.

Serious gaps in cover left several hospitals reliant on agency staff last July, despite a large group of doctors having already travelled here from Pakistan and India to apply for two-year posts.

However, a combination of factors turned the recruitment campaign into a fiasco -- with delays in sitting a Medical Council competency exam meaning that many of the doctors were left idle for months.

A HSE spokesperson said around 140 junior doctor posts needed to be filled next month as part of the roster changeover.

There are around 130 candidates who received confirmation from the Medical Council that they could sit competency exams in November and December.

The HSE spokesperson said several posts were currently filled by locum and agency staff, but the HSE did not believe there would be problems providing medical cover for patients even if trainee doctors could not be hired to do their work.

Around 230 of the doctors from Pakistan and India who arrived here last summer are now working.

The Irish Independent revealed in October that the HSE had to pay up to €2,521 to 95 of these doctors -- or €240,000 a month in total -- due to the delays they faced in sitting the exam.

The doctors were also paid €800 towards their accommodation.

The cost of the recruitment campaign mounted because the doctors were invited to come to Ireland weeks in advance of screening exams, necessary to vet their competence.

The full extent of the bill is still unclear because the HSE also had to provide some of the doctors with funds during the summer after they came to Ireland and were waiting to take the screening exams.

Irish Independent

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