ONE junior doctor based in the mid-west received a staggering €200,000 in overtime payments last year – four times the average salary of a registrar.
The figures, released through the Freedom of Information Act, also show that the top 10 recipients amongst junior doctors in the mid-west region received an aggregate amount of more than €1 million in overtime last year.
The figures also show that the junior doctor who received the second highest amount of overtime last year received €132,105.
Last year, the Health Service Executive’s overtime bill in the mid-west was €18.1m, compared with €19.2m in 2008.
Junior doctors’ overtime accounted for €11.9m, or 65%, of the total bill.
The figures show that nurses throughout the region received €3m in overtime last year with one clinical nurse specialist in mental health receiving the top amount in overtime of €51,607.
The next highest amount received by a nurse – in this instance a clinical nurse manager in mental health – received €41,372.
Overtime figures for paramedics show that the paramedic to receive the highest amount received €33,476 with the second highest amount being €31,676.
Dr Matthew Sadlier, chairman of the non-consultant hospital doctor committee of the Irish Medical Organisation, said the reason some medics are being paid “ridiculous amounts of overtime” was because they “are being asked to work ridiculous amounts of overtime”.
“On average, junior doctors are working something like 70 hours per week.
“The HSE is working to address this, we have agreed a new contract with them, but while you can’t introduce reform overnight we are worried about the number of hours junior doctors are being asked to work.
“You would prefer a tired doctor to no doctor at all, but yes, of course it is a risk,” Dr Sadlier said.
Fine Gael’s health spokesman Dr James Reilly said the amount of overtime was not only wasteful but was also dangerous for doctors and patients.
Dr Reilly said the Health Service Executive needed to urgently review work practices and increase staffing levels amongst junior doctors in order to deal with the high payouts.
Labour’s health spokeswoman, Jan O’Sullivan, said the pay-out to junior doctors was “a very bad use of limited resources”.
“What we need is appropriate numbers of doctors working shorter hours. Otherwise, it is unsafe for the patient and the doctor,” the Limerick East TD said.
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