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Unfilled consultant posts pose key risk to patient safety - Irish Medical Council

Unfilled specialised medical consultant roles and an over-reliance on overworked, internationally trained graduates for non-consultant hospital doctors are among key risks to patient safety identified by the Irish Medical Council.

The council, which is the regulatory body for the medical profession, sets out the risks to healthcare for the first time in its workforce intelligence report that breaks down the make-up of the medical register and explains why doctors are leaving the health system.

More than a third of all clinically active doctors are on the general register, which is a key risk to patient safety because consultant and specialist roles are not being filled and “a considerable proportion” of non-consultant hospital doctors are required to perform the duties of consultants.

The report found that the majority of non-consultant hospital doctors are trained overseas and that the health system overly relied on these doctors who reported being “overworked, undervalued, experiencing discrimination and unable to access specialist training.”

“Aside from the individual impact on the doctors, the treatment of international medical graduates has serious implications for patient safety,” the council said.

In another risk identified by the regulatory body, more than a quarter of doctors reported working more than 48 hours a week, in breach of the European Working Time Directive.

This has further serious implications for patient safety,” the council said.

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Source: Irish Times, 1 September 2022


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