Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin
Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin
Commenting on the junior hospital doctors’ vote for industrial action, Sinn Féin Health spokesperson Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin TD said it is a symptom of this and previous governments’ failure to reform hospital staffing and medical training.
“This dispute was inevitable given the failure of Health Minister James Reilly to implement the European Working Time directive and reduce the unacceptable long hours of non-consultant hospital doctors (NCHDs).
“It has been known and widely recognised for years that the hospital system is totally over-reliant on NCHDs. Successive governments have failed to address this over-reliance and this inappropriate staffing and it led to the crisis situation we faced with the supply of NCHDs in 2011.
“The Bill passed at that time facilitated the continuation – for the time being – of the current system or, at least prevented its collapse and the consequent loss of services. I asked then and ask again – how long will this ramshackle structure stand before it collapses or is replaced by a proper system of medical training and hospital staffing?
“The system was flawed enough without having to bear the brunt of austerity measures and the widespread budget cutbacks currently being imposed.
“The Irish Medical Organisation told the Oireachtas Health Committee last March that patient care is being jeopardised and that ‘an accident will happen as result of the working regime and it will have serious and perhaps even fatal consequences’ and there is‘consistent and dangerous flouting of the law every day in hospitals around the country’.
“While everything possible should be done to avoid any action that will affect patient care, these issues will not be resolved until hospital staffing and medical training are reformed. This will require more consultants and new grades of consultants and NCHDs to work in our public hospitals, and clear career paths. This cannot be done without also tackling the excessive pay of existing consultants and eliminating double-jobbing in the public-private system.”
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