Dáil Éireann - Volume 613 - 31 January, 2006
Written Answers. - Health Services.
Mr. Costello Mr. Costello
185. Mr. Costello asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children her views on reports from the Irish Medical Organisation that up to 27,000 children are losing out on vital checks for potentially serious medical conditions due to a shortage of public health doctors; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [3023/06]
Ms Harney Ms Harney
Ms Harney: The 2003 public health doctors agreement was negotiated between my Department, the Health Service Executive, HSE, and the Irish Medical Organisation, IMO, the representative body of public health doctors. This agreement allowed for 60 posts of director of public health medicine, DPH, specialist in public health medicine, SPHM, 30 posts of specialist registrars, SpR, 94 senior medical officer, SMO, posts and a maximum of 86 area medical officer, AMO, posts. It was agreed that no further AMOs would be recruited.
A joint implementation group, JIG, comprising representatives of the Department of Health and Children, the HSE and the IMO, was established in 2003 to oversee the implementation of this agreement. Since then this group has overseen competitions to fill specialist registrars, principal medical officers and senior medical officer posts. More than €13 million was provided in 2003 for the implementation of the agreement and while most of this funding was issued on a once-off basis in respect of retrospection, the ongoing costs of this agreement will be more than €7 million per year.
The competitions that were organised to fill all senior medical officer vacancies failed to yield a sufficient number of suitably qualified candidates. While my Department has no direct role to play in filling these posts it has suggested, through the joint implementation group, that the remaining vacancies in this grade should be advertised both nationally and internationally. The IMO, however, is opposed to this suggestion and wants the HSE to fill these vacancies through confined competition.
Currently, there is a total of 18 vacancies for public health doctors throughout the country. Of these, there are 15 vacancies for specialists in public health medicine in various HSE areas. I have been informed by the Public Appointments Service that it is currently in the process of organising competitions to fill these high level posts to be held within the next six to eight weeks. Interviews for the two principal medical officer vacancies are to be held in February and post-interview selection is in progress for one senior medical officer post.
On 16 January, management attended an LRC hearing, initiated by the IMO, to discuss the vac ancies issue. The chairman recommended that both sides meet, outside of the LRC, to ascertain the exact number of vacancies. Both sides will then return to the LRC for a further hearing.
Mr. Connolly Mr. Connolly
186. Mr. Connolly asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children the contingency plans she has in place to respond to a major emergency in the general Monaghan area in view of the continuing surgical off-call status of Monaghan General Hospital and the consequent restrictions imposed on the hospital services; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [2754/06]
Ms Harney Ms Harney
Ms Harney: The Deputy’s question relates to the management and delivery of health and personal social services, which are the responsibility of the Health Service Executive under the Health Act 2004. Accordingly, my Department has requested the executive to arrange to have this matter investigated and to have a reply issued directly to the Deputy.
Dáil Éireann 613 Written Answers. Health Services.