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€20k a week for unused doctors

THE HSE is paying €20,000 a week to house junior doctors unable to work because of red tape.

Some 270 non-consultant hospital doctors (NCHDs) from India and Pakistan were brought in to ease the manpower crisis in the health service.

But just 60 of these have been given the green light to work, while a further 30 failed the clinical skills examination.

The other 180 have been left languishing in bed & breakfast since July, unable to work and receiving just €100 a week each to cover their accommodation.

Health Minister James Reilly said 80pc of the doctors who were brought in passed their assessment, yet only 60 are registered to date.

"The difficulty for the Medical Council has been around incomplete documentation and that has been pursued aggressively," Mr Reilly said.

Mr Reilly said it was in the hands of the Medical Council and the doctors themselves to check documentation.

The delays in registering the doctors with the Medical Council have been caused in part by the medics not supplying documentation.

However, the HSE has also failed to submit declarations to the council supporting the applications, it has emerged.

Under the rules, NCHDs trained outside Ireland can only be registered to practice here if the HSE submits a declaration for each doctor, outlining the nature of the post

The Medical Council said declarations have been supplied in only half of the cases.

The registration delays have put pressure on the health service, with other doctors having to work longer hours to compensate, according to the HSE.

The Medical Council amended the required HSE documentation in late August.

Speaking to the Herald previously, a HSE spokeswoman said: "We are working with the council to develop an agreed template for the declarations and with the IMO on relevant adjustments to the NCHD contract to progress the registration of these doctors."

Fianna Fail health spokes-man Billy Kelleher called on Mr Reilly to fix the problems.

He pointed out the shortage of junior doctors had been flagged since last year and insisted there was enough time to ensure they were vetted and registered.