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NCHD shortage looms in July

27 Jun 2014


The health system faces a ‘vacancy’ rate of 100 to 120 NCHD posts, the HSE has conceded. The vacant posts “have not been filled by standard contracts but may be filled on a locum / agency basis”, said the HSE.

The Executive cited an international shortage of certain specialties and grades, for example that of Emergency Medicine registrar. The IMO has warned that at least 200 NCHD posts may be left unfilled in Irish hospitals in the coming weeks as current contracts expire.

Irish hospitals are understaffed at both consultant and NCHD levels and “the situation is set to worsen”, the union said. The IMO warned of delays and hardship for patients and chaos in the affected hospitals.

Vacancies were almost exclusively in service rather than training settings and about 115 trainees had been recruited from Pakistan, said the HSE. The HSE also recruits NCHDs from a range of EU states on an ongoing basis.

A total of 113 new training posts have been created from previous service posts for the July intake. There are about 4,910 NCHDs in the health system employed at four different grades. Eighty per cent were in structured training posts, an increase from 40 per cent in 2007, the HSE said.

Start times of rotations have been changed in recent years from January 1 and July 1, to maximise patient safety by ensuring new rotations commence on a phased basis — when the maximum number of medical and other hospital staff are available.

Vacancy data to date suggested that the “fill rate” of posts was slightly ahead of the same period in 2013, the HSE said. Taking this into account, it was not expected that there would be any reduction in service arising from difficulties filling posts, the Executive insisted.

In addition to establishing a recruitment oversight group to monitor NCHD recruitment, the HSE has also undertaken a number of initiatives.

27 June 2014

Click here to view the full article which appeared in Irish Medical Times