Stephen Donnelly: A signature could bring consultants back to Irish hospitals

Stephen Donnelly.

Fianna Fáil's Health spokesperson, Stephen Donnelly, has called on the Government to sign on the dotted line and bring our doctors home.

Mr Donnelly said he is furious at figures released on Friday, showing more than half a million patients were waiting for a first hospital outpatient appointment in March.

Deputy Donnelly said there are solutions, and it starts with staffing.

He said: "We have about half the hospital consultants that we need. One of the biggest barriers that has to be addressed, and could be addressed in a signature, is the new entrant pay discrepancy for hospital consultants needs to be corrected.

"We can bring back the fantastic and well-trained consultants, Irish consultants all over the world who want to come home but are saying 'look, I'm not going to earn €80,000 less than my colleague who has the same experience'."

The Fianna Fáil Deputy also accused the Government of making another empty promise when it comes to the development of the long-planned Maternity Hospital on the grounds of the new National Children’s Hospital.

He said: “I got the chance to grill the Health Minister face-to-face last Wednesday when he appeared before the Oireachtas Health Committee and I was shocked by what I learned. Simon Harris admitted to me that no money has been set aside in this year’s HSE budget for co-locating a maternity hospital on the grounds of the planned children’s hospital at St James’ in Dublin.

“We’re not talking about a first round of funding here. The Minister came in to talk to the Committee about the so-called ‘further revised estimates’ of the HSE budget. In other words, the National Maternity Hospital wasn’t included in the initial budget, it wasn’t included in the next draft of that budget and now it hasn’t been included in the latest figures.

“According to the Minister, there are no plans to allocate any money to the new building in 2019. I thought it was bad when the Minister told me recently that the design phase of the new maternity hospital hadn’t started yet; but this is even worse.

I shouldn’t have to remind anyone that we were promised that the maternity hospital would be developed in tandem with the children’s hospital – in fact that was one of the major selling-points of the city centre site at St James’.

"Unfortunately, I’m now more inclined to believe the former Master of the Coombe maternity hospital who recently told the Irish Times, ‘let’s not delude ourselves that we’ll get a world-class hospital for the €2 billion; there’ll never be a co-located maternity hospital’.

“It saddens me to say it, but this appears to be another instance of Fine Gael making a public promise that’s reneged in private. It’s a shame that it’s women and children who’ll pay the price”, he concluded.

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