'Toxic' HSE memo to consultant applicants 'at odds' with recruitment aims, says IHCA

'Toxic' Hse Memo To Consultant Applicants 'At Odds' With Recruitment Aims, Says Ihca 'Toxic' Hse Memo To Consultant Applicants 'At Odds' With Recruitment Aims, Says Ihca
Vice-president of the Irish Hospital Consultants Association (IHCA), Dr Gavrielle Colleran said issues in the health service must be fixed in order to make doctors want to work in the HSE.
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Vivienne Clarke

The vice-president of the Irish Hospital Consultants Association, Dr Gabrielle Colleran has described a memo from the HSE about consultants applying for positions as “a toxic communication”.

The memo from the HSE was for candidates who applied for consultant posts, telling them they had to accept a Sláintecare contract which has not yet been agreed. If they were not prepared to do so then their application would be cancelled, Dr Colleran explained.

“They are being asked to sign a contract that has not yet been agreed...We can’t have own goals like this,” she told RTÉ Radio’s Today with Claire Byrne show.

There needed to be a focus on fixing the current system so doctors would want to work in the HSE, she said, adding that the memo had “a huge impact” on applicants, many of whom felt “this is an employer that does not want me”.


This was at odds with the aim to recruit the consultants needed within the system, she said.


Dr Colleran pointed out that at present, waiting lists included 242,000 people in Dublin.

There had been an increase between 2015 and 2021 of 90 per cent in St James' Hospital, 92 per cent at the Mater, and 73 per cent at St Vincent’s. These figures were particularly stark going into the winter, she said.

There had been a 150-fold increase in the number of people waiting more than 12 months for an appointment, Dr Colleran explained, which was distressing for patients who were concerned that delays could have an impact on their outcomes, adding that patients should not have to fight so hard for treatment.

It was also stressful for consultants who were worried about their patients, Dr Colleran added.

The current rise in Covid numbers is also having an impact on the system, she stressed, with just 109 adult public beds and 19 ICU beds available on Wednesday, causing operations to be delayed.

Further restrictions are inevitable as cases rise,...
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“We’re in a very worrying situation so early in the winter.”

The situation with delays in paediatric psychiatric referrals meant the system is in crisis, Dr Colleran said. Early intervention in such cases is vital, she added, stating it was “just not good enough” that children needing psychiatric care were going to emergency departments for treatment.

Ireland has the lowest level of consultants in Europe, with 727 unfilled posts, so the first thing which needs to be done is to bring levels up to the European average, she said.

In some cases there are no applicants for open posts and this had to be addressed as people were going to work in the UK and Canada: “We need to focus on fixing the system so people will want to work here.”

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