Monday 23 October 2017

Spin doctors outnumber specialists in our hospitals

Crisis management is the order of the day but the solution to our gap in manpower is a simple one, writes John Crown

John Crown

Members of the Seanad were informed during the week that there will be an emergency debate next Friday, which is not normally a sitting day for the Upper House. This newly-minted senator felt a slight frisson of excitement and more than a puff of delusional self-importance when I heard this. Now I would have the opportunity to claim my rightful role in the great affairs of state!

While visions of Lincoln, Churchill and Chamberlain, Lenin and Kerensky, Parnell, Grattan and Gandhi danced through my head, I wondered what the national emergency was. Had we decided to declare war on Germany and France over the bondholders? Was Kerry planning to secede from the union and set up a Confederate Republic under the dynastic rule of the Healy-Raes, and with a novel form of telephone-based participatory democracy? Was Roscommon introducing slavery?

No, the national parliament needs to meet so that Ireland, the country with the largest number of medical schools per head of population in Europe, can pass emergency legislation to allow foreign trained doctors from non-EU countries -- in the great majority of cases from India and Pakistan -- to have a longer period of temporary registration in Ireland. This in turn is needed to plug the manpower gaps caused by the shortfall of junior doctors. If we don't do this on Friday, some hospitals might close the following Monday.

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