A consultant anaesthetist post at Dublin’s Beaumont Hospital has been vacant for over two years, according to Independent TD Tommy Broughan,
He said that the number of routine surgeries being carried out at the hospital has been reduced as a result of the vacancy.
Mr Broughan said apparently no suitable candidates were found during the first round of recruitment for the post, vacant since February 2013.
The revelation comes as the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) served notice of industrial action on Beaumont due to what it called “unsafe conditions in the emergency department,” with a work to rule to commence on June 10.
Mr Broughan expressed shock at the delays in filling vital consultants positions at the hospital and the impact this is having on the health service.
He said he received information from the HSE in a parliamentary question, which showed that five consultant posts are currently affected.
“The consultant transplant surgeon post has been vacant since December 1, 2014, due to the lack of successful candidates, and the impact has been that routine surgery is delayed,” he said. “The consultant histopathologist post has been vacant since the end of last October”.
A consultant paediatric anaesthetist post remains vacant, but a doctor has been recruited and there is an agreed start date next January.
This is a post which is shared with Our Lady’s Hospital for Sick Children in Crumlin.
Mr Broughan said that cuts in health spending in recent years are having a major impact on a “struggling health service, with huge waiting lists, over-crowding and sub-standard service.
“Beaumont currently has 812 beds, 672 in-patient beds and 146 day case beds, including beds in St Joseph’s in Raheny.
“The hospital falls under area nine, which has a population of 581,486, and figures for the area show that the emergency departments deal with approximately 51,000 attendees yearly, 24,000 in-patients, 181,000 out patients and 57,000 day cases.
“These figures clearly highlight the importance of having a full complement of staff, including consultants,” he said.
“Clearly with nearly €2bn being taken out of the service per annum since 2009, it is without a doubt having a negative impact now”.
A spokeswoman for Beaumont told the Herald that it is making a consistent effort to appoint suitable candidates to a number of consultant positions.
“The hospital regrets the delay to elective surgeries while this recruitment process is underway,” she said.