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Model 3 Hospital Consultants, One-in-Four in Locum posts

A forecast predicts that hospitals will have to enlist 1,000 consultants within the next ten years to cope with the rising demand, as stated in a recent report.

According to the newly released report, nearly a quarter of consultants in Model 3 hospitals held temporary positions at the beginning of the previous year. Additionally, one-third of them were over 55 years old.

Among the 17 hospitals examined, Tipperary University Hospital in Clonmel had the highest percentage of non-permanent consultants at 35%, while Mercy University Hospital in Cork had the lowest at 12%.

The Model 3 Hospital Report, conducted by the HSE's National Doctors Training and Planning (NDTP) group, scrutinized the challenges regarding the recruitment and retention of consultants, analyzing data from January 2022.

The report highlighted the staffing difficulties faced by general hospitals in Ireland. In the Model 3 network, 24% of consultants were in temporary positions, compared to 12% in Model 4 hospitals, which provide tertiary care.

Prof Brian Kinirons, the NDTP Medical Director, expressed concern about the future service delivery of the Model 3 network, emphasizing the necessity to actively encourage recruitment. He noted that a crisis in service delivery is imminent due to the aging consultant workforce.

The report revealed that out of 807 consultants employed in Model 3 hospitals, seven percent were not approved by the Consultant Applications Advisory Committee (CAAC), despite it being an essential requirement since 2008. Similarly, a proportion of consultants were not on the specialist register of the Medical Council of Ireland.

Highlighting the recruitment challenges, the report projected a need to recruit 1,005 consultants for Model 3 hospitals by 2032 to meet the escalating healthcare demand, signifying an 87% net increase from the current workforce.

It identified radiology, obstetrics and gynaecology, and emergency medicine as the specialties posing the most difficulty in recruitment.

Concerns were raised about the reliance of Model 3 hospitals on Non-Consultant Hospital Doctors (NCHDs) compared to Model 4 sites. 

The report's launch at the NDTP National Medical Workforce Conference on November 9 featured discussions on the future of the health service in relation to HSE health regions. Health Minister Stephen Donnelly emphasized the need for coordinated reforms to ensure high-quality integrated care.

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