The Medical Council says the rate of complaints it receives about hospital consultants who are not on the specialist register is “slightly more” than those who are.
The vice-president of the Medical Council, Dr Anthony Breslin, said 254 doctors who are not on the specialist register have indicated they practise as hospital consultants and 149 work solely in public health.
Fianna Fáil’s health spokesman, Stephen Donnelly, described the situation as “absolutely shocking” at a meeting of the joint committee on health yesterday.
The HSE’s national human resources’ director, Rosarii Mannion, said she was aware of the issue since she was appointed to her post in September 2015.
“I would say to a very high degree of confidence that the HSE would have been aware of this issue since the qualifications changed in 2008,” she said.
Ms Mannion said the issue is a “key priority” for the HSE and it is working with the Medical Council and training bodies to address it.
Mr Donnelly asked if the HSE had issued a directive to stop the practice of allowing medical practitioners to work as consultants without being on the specialist register.
Mr Mannion said a number of circulars have been issued about the matter and she could furnish copies to the committee.
The president of the Irish Hospital Consultants Association, Dr Tom Ryan, agreed there is a clinical risk if the medical practitioner is not on the specialist register.
“The whole point of having professional standards is that you have a set standard of quality that people have to achieve so they are allowed to look after patients,” said Dr Ryan.
President of the Irish Medical Organisation, Dr Peardar Gilligan, said the situation is “symptomatic” of the recruitment and retention crisis.
“Yes, there is significant clinical risk created,” he said.
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