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Hospital Consultant Recruitment

Dáil Éireann Debate, Thursday - 2 June 2016

Thursday, 2 June 2016

Ceisteanna (7)

Eugene Murphy


7. Deputy Eugene Murphy asked the Minister for Health the number of consultants employed at Portiuncula Hospital, County Galway, and the number of vacant consultant positions. [13759/16]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí ó Béal (4 píosaí cainte) (Ceist ar Health)

There are 28 consultants employed at Portiuncula University Hospital, while three posts are vacant. This hospital, like many other smaller hospitals, has difficulty filling certain posts and relies on locums to fill posts pending permanent appointments. Of the 28 consultants in post, five are currently employed as locums.

The hospital is focused on filling posts on a permanent basis, reducing reliance on locums and recruiting additional consultants. Within medicine, three locum posts are due to be filled on a permanent basis this year, two in September and one in October. It is also intended to re-advertise one consultant in geriatric medicine post and one consultant in gastroenterology post.

In obstetrics, the consultant working as a locum at present is due to take up a permanent post on 7 July, strengthening the team to five permanent consultants.

Within radiology, two consultant radiologist posts are in clearance stage, one is to commence later this year and the second in 2017.

Reflecting the improvements in train, the hospital recently secured the permanent appointment of a consultant anaesthetist. This post-holder has key responsibility for the intensive care unit and is a joint appointment between Portiuncula and Galway University Hospital. There is also an additional consultant due to commence on the 23 January 2017.

The Saolta Hospital Group recognises the importance of Portiuncula to the delivery of care within the group and this is reflected in the recent and planned improvements in consultant recruitment at the hospital. I assure the Deputy that this process will continue.

I have congratulated most of the Minister's team on their appointments but I wish him well. Gan dabht, is jab an-deacair é d'aon duine bheith ina Aire Sláinte ag an am seo ach tá mé cinnte go mbeidh an tAire ina Aire Sláinte maith le linn an Rialtais seo. The very best of luck.

I welcome the reply to the question but I ask the Minister to ensure that all the appointments to which he referred will happen in the coming months. Portiuncula University Hospital is a very important part of the health system in the Roscommon-Galway constituency. Not only does it look after patients from Roscommon-Galway, it takes them from Clare, Offaly and other adjoining counties. Ever since the closure of the accident and emergency department at Roscommon University Hospital, it is even more important that all the services available at Portiuncula are retained and upgraded. I ask the Minister to make every effort to ensure that the appointments to which he referred will be made in the coming months because they are essential for the future of the hospital.

I thank the Deputy and I do assure him of that. The process of increasing both the number of consultants working in the hospital and the number working on a permanent basis, rather than on a locum basis, is the intention of the HSE and the Saolta hospital group. Three locum posts will convert to permanent posts later this year, two in September and one in October. In addition, we will advertise the consultant post in geriatric medicine and I invite the Deputy to keep in touch with me and the HSE on the matter. It is my intention that this continues to develop and that the number of consultants required, not just in this instance but throughout the country, are installed.

Since my election as a Dáil Deputy for the Roscommon-Galway constituency, I have met the community in Ballinasloe on three occasions, including business people and community people in the town and staff in the hospital. They are very proud of the hospital at Portiuncula and want to talk it up. They want to see new developments. It is really important for Roscommon University Hospital that they happen there as well. There is talk of a 50-bed unit at Portiuncula University Hospital going to planning and that is extremely important for the future of the hospital.

I welcome the Minister's statement and I hope the reinvestment that is taking place in the health service will continue because it is essential for the health care of the people in that region.