NI consultant posts unfilled4th April 2012
New concerns have been raised over the number of unfilled consultant posts at hospitals in Northern Ireland.
New figures show that up to 95 consultant posts are unfilled, including 20 at the Royal Victoria in Belfast.
The data obtained by the SDLP, following concerns over waiting lists at Antrim Area Hospital, also found that a number of the vacant positions were in accident and emergency departments.
Three of the six vacancies at Antrim are in the A&E department although health service managers have suggested that part of the wider problem in accident and emergency departments is because consultants are reluctant to work in such a high pressurised environment.
However, SDLP assembly representative for the area Patsy McGlone said: “What I’ve been told is that many of the trusts in a cost-cutting exercise just simply aren't filling these positions. There’s clearly a management issue here.”
That claim has been rejected by Sean Donaghy, chief executive of the Northern Health Trust.
He said that the trust’s drive had been to increase the medical staff complement and there were no areas where vacancies have been held in order to save funds.
Elsewhere, Craigavon Area Hospital has 12 unfilled posts and there are 10 at the Ulster Hospital, 10 in Altnagelvin, seven in Daisy Hill in Newry and three at the Erne in Enniskillen.
The Department of Health said: “Trusts are actively trying to fill these vacancies but it is recognised that there are specialties in which employers have difficulty in attracting suitable applicants.”
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