Trust admits recruitment difficulties threaten Daisy Hill A&E opening hours

March 6, 2017

The Southern Trust has admitted it is still struggling to fill vacancies for permanent senior Emergency Medicine doctors at Daisy Hill Hospital, relying instead on locum doctors to keep the facility open overnight.   A Trust official confirmed to The Examiner that the recruitment difficulties mean that safely sustaining the local Emergency Department on a 24/7 basis “remains a significant challenge.”

With vacancies for senior medical personnel remaining unfilled for some time now, recent comments made on social media by Newry Mourne and Down District Council Chairperson Gillian Fitzpatrick slamming any possibility of reduced hours at Daisy Hill A & E as “unacceptable” have prompted renewed speculation that restricted opening times are being considered for the facility.

Voicing her frustration at the situation, Ms Fitzpatrick said,

“You cannot time sickness, accidents etc… therefore you cannot determine reducing A&E hours because you can’t know when someone is going to get ill, have an accident.”

The Council Chairperson insisted that the people of the district “deserve better”and added, “We won’t settle for less than the best!”

In a direct challenge to the Trust’s stance on recruitment, she said,

“You cannot find replacement doctors and consultants?? Maybe if you promote our hospitals and district in a more positive manner then the recruitment process won’t be so difficult!

“Go look again at your recruitment process, go ensure you are selling our district better. Come ask the council to help you market your recruitment drive. We need the doctors, so we can help you.  Don’t sell us short just because the trust can’t sell the jobs well!!

“We can help do that, we as a district have a right to proper care, we have the best nurses and doctors in our hospitals, we just need more of them.”

In a passionate plea to medical personnel, the NMDDC Chairperson asked prospective Emergency Department staff to “take a leap of faith when I say the NM&D area is a great place to work, rest and play in. You won’t want to leave us if you come.

“We deserve better!! So we demand better and will keep on demanding better until we get the best!”

Asked by The Examiner whether Ms Fitzpatrick’s comments were an indication that reduced hours for Daisy Hill Emergency Department were on the Trust’s agenda, a spokesperson acknowledged that “The national shortage of appropriately trained emergency doctors means that the recruitment and retention of senior medical staff required to safely sustain the Emergency Department at Daisy Hill hospital on a 24/7 basis, remains a significant challenge.”

The Trust representative claimed that despite “exhaustive efforts” in recent years to recruit doctors, both locally and internationally, and offering premium rates as well as a full relocation package, posts for permanent senior Emergency Medicine doctors at Daisy Hill Hospital still remain unfilled.

“For some time now, we have been relying extensively on locum doctors to keep the Daisy Hill Emergency Department open overnight,” admitted the spokesperson.

“Ensuring the delivery of safe, high quality care to our patients is and always will be our focus and our senior management team meets regularly to review the Emergency Department staffing situation.”