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Severe deskilling risk — RCSI

14 Feb 2014

Prof Paddy Broe — many surgeons only have theatre space for three to four days work a week

The RCSI President has warned there is a serious risk of deskilling newly appointed surgeons in Irish hospitals.

Prof Patrick Broe was addressing more than 400 surgeons at the annual Charter Day surgical meeting in the RCSI, where he also spoke on the need to protect surgical beds for elective surgery procedures.

Giving his Presidential Address, Prof Broe stated: “There have been reports in the media highlighting the serious problem in recruiting high quality specialists of all kinds to come home to Ireland to practise. In surgery, the situation is even more complex and it is not just about the reduction in pay. It is also due to the lack of basic theatre resources, rolling theatre closures and the lack of protected beds.

“This group of surgeons were appointed under a contract designed around the presence of co-located private hospitals, but since these hospitals do not exist, a surgeon’s week is not fully occupied. In practice, we witness surgeons appointed under these contracts only being able to work three to four days per week and sometimes even less.”

He added: “This is not appropriate and it is not the correct beginning to one’s consultant career. It is also very bad value for the taxpayers’ money.”

The Clinical Programme for Elective Surgery had addressed the issue and demonstrated that ring-fencing and protecting surgical beds and guaranteeing access to theatres was essential in order to treat surgical patients who needed planned surgery, said Prof Broe. In tackling these elective lists, trainees could be supervised and surgeons could also maintain their own skills, he added.

“We know there is spare capacity in some of the private hospitals and we should be working to treat patients in a planned and regulated fashion and use these resources to their full capacity, rather than the current system of feverish activity and referral of patients elsewhere to meet a rapidly approaching target deadline,” Prof Broe said.

In July 2013, the RCSI launched the new Surgical Training Pathway, which he indicated was “progressing very well”.

In his address, the President highlighted some of the issues of the initial six months of the project and acknowledged the input and support of all the specialties as well as the Academic Heads of Department.

14 February 2014

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