Dáil to rush law on junior doctors

EMERGENCY legislation is to be rushed through the Oireachtas to try and ease a looming crisis over the lack of junior doctors.

The move will see the status of temporary registration restored so that some of the gaps in the health service can be filled.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny made a pledge to the Dáil that there would be no compromise on patient safety because of the situation with junior doctors.

“It is not about recruitment inability, a moratorium, or funding, it’s about the fact that we do not have a temporary registration facility which other European countries use to fill spaces at the changeover of non-consultant hospital doctors, in the way we should have,” the Taoiseach told the Dáil.

Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams insisted the Government had failed patients as it had been warned about the looming problems when it first took office in March.

Mr Adams said it was “rubbish” to claim patient care would not be damaged.

The situation has arisen because there will be a major shortage of non-consultant doctors after July 11 when posts are due to be rotated.

Mr Kenny said a major recruitment drive in India and Pakistan had been under way to try and deal with the problem.

Earlier this week, Health Minister James Reilly admitted a situation could emerge where some accident and emergency departments couldn’t be safely manned, though he insisted it would be smaller units and not large A&Es that would be impacted.

The Irish Association for Emergency Medicine has warned that prolonged emergency department waiting times for patients will lead to delayed treatment and “potential avoidable harm”.

It called on the new HSE board to put contingency plans in place so services could be safely provided to all patients.

The HSE said it was continuing to work through the process in terms of recruitment campaigns at national and international level.

“The public can be assured that the issue is receiving attention at the highest level and we are engaged with all the parties including the medical colleges which oversee the training of junior doctors, the Medical Council, the Department of Health and Children and the Minister for Health,” the HSE said.

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