Tuesday, 5 November 2019

Questions (611)

Mattie McGrath


611. Deputy Mattie McGrath asked the Minister for Health if concerns that approximately 133 public consultant posts are being filled by doctors who are not on the specialist register will be addressed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44913/19]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

My Department, in conjunction with the Medical Council, and the HSE are currently addressing this issue.

The Report of the National Doctor Training and Planning Project Team (HSE) on the Employment of Consultants not Registered in the Specialist Division of the Register of Medical Practitioners was progressed to final draft stage in September and provided to my Department on that basis last month. The Report provides an analysis of the current situation and outlines the work undertaken by the project team to date. It identified 153 consultants employed in the HSE who were not on the Specialist Division of the Register (February 2019 data), 46 of whom were employed prior to the introduction of the requirement for specialist registration in 2008; and 107 employed after the introduction of this requirement. Of those appointed prior to the 2008 policy change 40 were properly appointed under the eligibility criteria for consultant posts that applied at the time.

I am currently bringing legislation through the Oireachtas, the Regulated Professions (Health and Social Care) (Amendment) Bill 2019, that will enable the Medical Council to place those who were properly appointed under the criteria that applied prior to the introduction of the specialist registration requirement in 2008; where it is satisfied that it would be in order to do so. Report Stage is scheduled for tomorrow, 6th November.

The objective of the overall project is to progress to having all consultants employed by the HSE on the Specialist Division of the Register. In this context, the Report identifies the impact of the ongoing challenges in the recruitment of consultants, including reduced numbers of applicants for consultant posts and the recruitment process itself, as significant factors at present and proposes a number of key recommendations. The analysis identifies particular problems in certain specialties including Community Mental Health services and certain acute hospital specialties including Medicine, Surgery, Emergency Medicine, Anaesthesia/Intensive Care Medicine and Obstetrics/Gynaecology.