Thursday, 25th July 2013
Health Minister’s commitment to reviewing employment structures for junior doctors extremely welcome
At today’s meeting of the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Health and Children the Minister for Health, James Reilly, TD, confirmed that he has commissioned a review of employment and training structures for Non-Consultant Hospital Doctors (NCHDs) or junior doctors. A review of the employment and training opportunities for junior doctors could significantly improve the delivery of healthcare in Ireland.
Minister Reilly has confirmed that he has commissioned a review of employment structures, and the training and education that is available to junior hospital doctors. Under existing employment conditions, junior doctors have to endure extraordinary working conditions, working long hours that very few other medical professionals have to endure. Working shifts that can span 36 or more hours, including on-call periods, is neither in the interests of doctors nor patients. If our health service is to be reformed then we need to restructure how doctors are employed and give them every opportunity to deliver the quality healthcare we all want to see delivered to patients.
Over the last number of years, the HSE has had to recruit NCHDs from other countries, while failing to provide adequate opportunities to those who train in Ireland. Many doctors who train here find more defined career and training paths in other countries where they enjoy contracts of employment that give them certainty about their futures. It is completely understandable that many doctors choose to take these opportunities when the alternative is long shifts, no defined career path and contracts of employment that last for just six months.
Doctors who have trained here in Ireland are entitled to expect access to defined career paths when they qualify. They should be able to enjoy some degree of certainty in their employment and they should not be faced with searching for a new job every six months. Letting the current situation continue is not acceptable and it is not in the interests of doctors or patients.
I am pleased that the Minister has commissioned a review to address these issues. I understand that the Minister has requested that this review will be on his desk by end October. Over the years there has been much talk about addressing these issues, I hope that the Minister’s commitment to resolving the issue will deliver the required change in the interests of doctors and patients.