349 vacant consultant posts nationally
Figures released last week reveal that six hospital consultant posts remain vacant in Sligo Hospital, along with a child and adolescent psychiatrist in Sligo-Leitrim.
The figures from the Department of Health to a Dáil question show 349 consultant jobs around the country remain unfilled after being advertised.
The figures were obtained by Sinn Féin health spokesperson Louise O’Reilly, she commented “It is indisputable that there is a recruitment and retention crisis affecting consultants and the Minister for Health and the HSE need to engage with representatives of consultants to come up with a plan to address the situation. Continuing on this current trajectory is dangerous for patients, staff, and the health service."
In Sligo University Hospital the vacant consultant posts are in the departments of Dermatology, General Medicine, Histopathology, Microbiology and Radiology.
Cavan General has four unfilled posts, in General Surgery, Paediatrics and Radiology. Two posts specialising in Psychiatry of Learning Disabilities in the Mental Health Services in Cavan and Monaghan are also unfilled. Every hospital in the country is affected by consultant job vacancies.
In Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, an area where there are 2,700 children waiting to be seen by the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services, there is a staggering 13 vacant consultant posts, including Sligo/ Leitrim.
A spokesperson for the HSE told the paper, “The Sligo Leitrim Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service CAMHS team are resourced for two consultants. There are currently a total of 2.2 CAMHS consultants employed by Sligo/Leitrim Mental Health Services. The additional Consultant hours was approved in 2017 to assist the service managing the waiting time for families. This has been achieved.
“However the recruitment/ retention of Child & Adolescent Consultant Psychiatrists is a national challenge. This is not a resource issue but it reflects a national shortage of Consultant Psychiatrists.
“HSE Sligo/Leitrim Mental Health Services continues to work with patients, their representatives and families to ensure the best possible service is provided.”
Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS) Sligo/Leitrim supports children and adolescents with mental health needs.
The focus of this service is to provide children and adolescents with support and therapeutic intervention within their family support circle to understand and navigate their mental health issues.
There have been numerous calls over the past few years for more resources in the CAMHS service in Sligo Leitrim.
Leitrim TD for Sinn Féin Martin Kenny has raised serious concern over figures release from the HSE which shows there are 10 vacant consultant posts in hospitals in the North West.
Deputy Kenny said, “For some time now hospital consultants and their representatives have been saying that there is a recruitment and retention crisis within the profession; and the figures released regarding vacancy rates for consultants prove not only that this crisis is very real but, that it affects nearly every hospital across the State.
"Indeed, here in the North West hospitals in Sligo, Leitrim, Roscommon and Donegal there are ten vacant consultant posts in extremely important specialities such as psychiatry, radiology and microbiology.
“The HSE has tried every way to get around this problem, including employing doctors not on the specialist register as consultants and employing locum/agency consultants; but papering over the cracks and short term solutions are not working.
“It is indisputable that there is a recruitment and retention crisis affecting consultants and the Minister for Health and the HSE need to engage with representatives of consultants and come up with a plan to address the situation because continuing on this current trajectory is dangerous for patients, staff, and the health service.
Three clinical psychologists were appointed to the local CAMHS in January of this year .
In relation to the vacant posts, the HSE says the new database was only recently put in place and warned that there "may be variances or gaps in the data" as the process was not complete.