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Locums must be on Specialist Register

08 May 2015

The qualifications for locum consultant radiologists in Ireland should be the same as those of a permanent consultant, the Honorary Secretary of the Faculty of Radiologists at the RCSI has stated.

Last week, serious concerns emerged about the work of three locum radiologists in Bantry, Kerry and Cavan/Monaghan, one of whom the HSE has confirmed was on the Medical Council Register but not in the Specialist Division. A significant number of x-rays were reviewed, but only a small fraction required follow-up and a repeat scan. Regrettably, one incident of delayed diagnosis has been confirmed.

Speaking to Irish Medical Times, Dr Niall Sheehy, Honorary Secretary of the Faculty of Radiologists at the RCSI, said: “If the HSE was advertising a job as permanent it would always have in it that the person should be on the Specialist Register or at least be capable of being on the Specialist Register by time of appointment… and it should be the same for a locum because the person is essentially fulfilling the same role.

“If it turns out that one or more of these locums was not on the Specialist Register, the HSE needs to deal with the implications of that,” he added.

Dr Sheehy conceded that a shortage of consultant radiologists in Ireland could make it difficult to find locums in the specialty. Ireland has just over half the per capita number of consultant radiologists as the European average (Ireland has five per 100,000 population vs 7.8 in Germany or 11.3 in France).

“The clinical demand for radiology services is increasing steadily in Ireland, as it is in all developed countries. These factors have led to high workloads for Irish radiologists when compared with their peers in other countries and partly explains why it can be so difficult for some hospitals to find locum cover. The HSE tries to balance waiting lists, reporting delays and service quality. This has, at different times, proved impossible in all of these three categories within the structures and resources currently in existence,” the Faculty stated.

It also noted that due to the development of a national radiology IT system radiologists may in future be able to work in a more centralised manner. However, this needed to be accompanied by an expansion in consultant radiologist numbers.

By June Shannon

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