Hiring of ‘rogue’ doctors to be addressed urgently, says Coveney

Concerns over the hiring of “rogue” doctors will be examined as part of a review of recruitment by the health service and will be urgently addressed by the HSE, according to Tánaiste Simon Coveney.

His assurances came after the suspension of a maternity hospital doctor who did not meet basic standards.

The President of the High Court, Mr Justice Peter Kelly, this week referred concerns about recruitment of doctors, following the case, to the Health Minister Simon Harris and the HSE.

In the Dáil yesterday during leaders’ questions, Fianna Fáil deputy leader Dara Calleary sought a Government response.

“Can the Tánaiste give guarantees that there are no other rogue doctors working within our system?

“I am referring to doctors who are not in a position to deliver on basic skills that people expect,” he said.

Mr Coveney said the health minister was seeking an “urgent response” from his department and HSE chiefs and was examining the court judgment, which raised worries about general recruitment.

Hospital groups are responsible for hiring non-consultants, the Dáil heard, but Mr Coveney said: “The HSE is currently undertaking a detailed review of recruitment processes with a view to introducing a revised model next year.

The concerns that the deputy raised are being, and will be, taken very seriously in the context of that review.

However, he was also forced to defend Taoiseach Leo Varadkar over the call this week for holiday leave to be cancelled at Christmas for nurses and consultants.

The comments sparked a backlash from consultants, while nurses are separately on the brink of striking over pay.

Mr Coveney said the Taoiseach’s remarks were “fair and direct”, reiterating Mr Varadkar’s position that capacity in hospitals could not be solved overnight.

The HSE’s winter plan will be released shortly and rostering was indeed an issue, he added.

However, Sinn Fein deputy Dáil leader Pearse Doherty declared the Taoiseach’s comments on staff holidays as “stupid and insulting” and an attack on frontline staff.

A recruitment crisis was the cause of overcrowding in hospitals and not annual leave, the Donegal TD insisted.

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