One in seven hospital consultants has not completed specialist training

Irish patients are being exposed to "potentially grave risks" as hospitals continue to appoint under-qualified doctors to specialist consultant positions.

The Sunday Business Post is reporting that one-in-seven medical consultants have not completed specialist medical training.

Figures from the Irish Medical Council show that 650 out of 4,373 consultants working across the public and private sector were not on the specialist register in 2015.

The number has continued to rise over recent years as hospitals struggle to recruit and retain top doctors.

The Irish Hospital Consultants’ Association (IHCA) has warned that the practice violates basic professional standards while the Irish Medical Organisation says patients are being exposed to “potentially grave risks.”

Completing the lengthy specialist training and exams entitles a doctor to "practise independently, without supervision and represent themselves as specialists".

The president of the High Court has reportedly asked the IMC to explain what it is doing to address the issue and protect patient safety.

Mr Justice Peter Kelly has warned that it is “hardly surprising” that the courts regularly hear the HSE apologising over substandard treatment and paying out millions in compensation.

In a statement, the Irish Medical Council said the term consultant is not defined under the Medical Practitioners Act and while patient safety is its “paramount concern,” it has “no input around the appointment of consultants, once a doctor is registered with us".

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