Situation around junior doctors 'immoral', says James Reilly

Thursday 25 July 2013 20.17
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James Reilly said he wants junior doctors to come up with ways to improve the situation
James Reilly said he wants junior doctors to come up with ways to improve the situation
Tony O'Brien is now the Director General of the Health Service Executive
Tony O'Brien is now the Director General of the Health Service Executive

Minister for Health James Reilly has accused the Irish health system of "robbing" developing countries of their doctors.

Mr Reilly has told the Oireachtas Health Committee that he felt the situation surrounding junior doctors, or non-consultant hospital doctors, was immoral.

He said doctors were trained and then came out of college "into a wilderness" without any mentoring or advice on best possible career paths.

The situation that has been allowed to evolve is the fault of politicians, he said, but also of the medical profession and leaders in the medical profession.

He said he wants junior doctors to come up with ways to improve the situation and to bring those thoughts to him.

Junior doctors have complained that they work in excess of their permitted hours under the EU working time directive.

He said the Department of Health was "presiding over a perversity" where "our brightest and best" were trained to go away, while "we scour the third world and rob them and deprive them of their doctors".

He said he had commissioned a report on the situation and wanted it on his desk by the end of September, or the beginning of October at the latest.

The minister said he had asked the head of a university that does not have a medical school to carry out this review.

He said he wanted to introduce transparency and fairness, and to have Irish-trained doctors stay in Ireland.

Reilly would 'never' meet tobacco companies

On the issue of smoking in cars, Mr Reilly said the heads of the bill were with the Attorney General.

He told the committee that he would "never" meet any tobacco company and said he had very strong professional and personal feelings about the issue of smoking.

Minister Reilly also welcomed the VHI's deal for re-insurance with Berkshire Hathaway.

Earlier, Mr Reilly announced that Tony O'Brien is now the Director General of the Health Service Executive.

Mr O'Brien has been acting in the role as Director General Designate for the last year.

Meanwhile, the HSE has asked community and hospital services to look for extra cost-cutting measures this year to avoid cuts to patient services.

Mr O'Brien said that without corrective action, community and hospital services there will be in deficit of €104m for the current financial year.

He said that these cost-savings are necessary to avoid any impact on direct services.

Mr O'Brien said the HSE itself was also running a deficit of €49.34m for the first five months of this year.

He said it was not fully in the power of the HSE to make the €353m savings required in its service plan this year.