Sunday 25 February 2018

'We need to tackle shortage of consultants to address waiting lists' - Beaumont consultant

Dr. Peadar Gilligan, Emergency Medicine Consultant, Beaumont Hospital, Dublin.
Dr. Peadar Gilligan, Emergency Medicine Consultant, Beaumont Hospital, Dublin.
Minister for Health Simon Harris. Photo: Caroline Quinn

A leading hospital consultant has said that until Ireland tackles its “significant resource challenge” and recruits clinicians Irish hospitals will continue to struggle to meet demand.

Dr Peadar Gilligan, a consultant in Beaumont, was speaking after it emerged that waiting lists in Irish hospitals may be up to 60pc higher than reported due to a ‘massaging of the figures’.

The doctor said the revelations was “very, very concerning” to clinicians.

Mr Gilligan told Newstalk Breakfast that some 270 clinical posts remain unfilled in Ireland, adding to the problem of long waiting lists.

“The reason we wait for so long until outpatient assessment is that we have fewer specialists per capita in Ireland than most other European countries,” he said.

“We really do have a huge challenge in the country there is a significant resource challenge

“At this point in time we have over 270 vacant consultancy posts in Ireland… so there is no consultant in place to manage that waiting list or even to asses patients in the outpatient department in many parts of the country.

“We need to invest consistently in the health care of our nation,” he added.

Mr Gilligan said technical solutions should also be examined, as well as capacity and staffing to tackle the crisis.

The latest data from the OECD shows that Ireland ranks mid-table in the number of doctors  per capita.

Ireland has three doctors per 1,000 people – which compares with Poland which has 2.2 and Austria with five.

Spain, Germany, Italy and Switzerland all rank better than Ireland in terms of doctors per capita.

This week an expose, 'RTÉ Investigates - Living on the List, revealed that 49,000 people had apparently been removed from public waiting lists.

Minister Simon Harris said he was "ashamed and heartbroken" after watching the program.

"This is something that I as minister for health can't stand over," he told RTE's Claire Byrne after the program.

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