At the height of COVID, in 2020 intern numbers were increased to deal with health service pressures. This increase was an emergency measure in direct response to the COVID-19 Pandemic. It was not planned, and it was never intended to be sustained on an annual basis.
The Minister for Health asked officials and the HSE to review options to increase the number of medical intern places for 2021.The review will include consideration of current training capacity, and the continued pressures faced by COVID-19 and the ongoing recruitment of senior medical staff.
The Minister is expecting an interim proposal this week. The HSE will also undertake a full review the number of intern posts in a planned and targeted manner for July 2022 to ensure any increases in intern posts is aligned with projected workforce planning requirements, postgraduate training positions, the overall objective of delivering high quality training programmes and having appropriate focused career development opportunities to build the medical workforce and continue to deliver safe care.
As we are coming out of the third wave of COVID and facing increased waiting lists and other challenges there is a focus is on continued recruitment to ensure we have senior doctors to deal with the continued demands. As part of the planned investment by the HSE in additional staffing, services and infrastructure the HSE will be investing in additional medical staffing in 2021. For example:
- Increased the number of approved postgraduate training places by 106 places for July 2021
- Introduced up to 54 new Senior Fellowship posts for July 2021
- Consultant Appointments Approval Committee has approved 91 new consultant posts since August 2020
Further increases are underway and planned as part of the 2021 HSE National Service Plan.
These additional consultants and other senior decision makers will support the delivery of shorter waiting times, the reduction of inappropriate hospital admissions, improved patient flow, and earlier discharge of patients to the community.