AN urgent review of all temporary consultants working in hospitals has been ordered, amid fears that some may not be fully trained.
here are concerns that some hospitals may be breaching rules which were drawn up in the wake of cancer misdiagnosis scandals. These tightened up the qualifications needed by temporary doctors from abroad.
Due to a shortage of junior doctors, the HSE had to go on a desperate overseas recruitment drive in the second half of last year in order to have enough medics to staff key areas, such as emergency departments.
Hospitals were facing a particular shortage of doctors in anaesthesia, orthopaedic surgery and emergency medicine from January of this year.
A confidential circular, seen by the Irish Independent, has been sent by Sean McGrath, the head of human resources in the HSE, ordering the checks on consultants' qualifications.
Mr McGrath warned that since 2009 all locum consultants were required to be on the specialist register for the Medical Council.
Doctors on this register have produced the necessary paperwork to satisfy the council that they have completed training as specialists and can work without supervision.
Correspondence which accompanied the circular included allegations that doctors not on the register were working in hospitals in Drogheda, Castlebar and Clonmel.
A spokeswoman for the Medical Council confirmed it was aware that some locum consultants may be working in the HSE who are not on the specialist division of the register.
A spokesperson for the HSE covering the western region was unable to say if locum consultants not on the register were working in its hospitals.
The HSE North East said it was aware of the condition of employment.
It said: "The HSE will always endeavour to recruit medical practitioners who have completed specialist training and are registered in the specialist division of the register.
"There will be cases where medical practitioners who did not go through specialist training are made permanent because they have acquired an entitlement to a contract of indefinite duration."
It added: "In the cases of locums, it is not always possible to recruit a medical practitioner who has completed specialist training. However, efforts will always continue to source medical practitioners on the specialty register."