A CAMPAIGN to retain the services of junior doctors – including one at Bantry General Hospital – has been launched.
This July, Dr Cormac Duff said the HSE is set to cut 15 junior doctors in Cork city, who were appointed in 2020 to deal with the pandemic, as well as a doctor at Bantry General Hospital and at the hospital in Mallow.
Dr Cormac Duff said the decision to go public about it, and to arrange a petition – which has garnered 4,000 signatures in its first week – follows months of discussions with the HSE and Health Minister Stephen Donnelly.
‘This is not the time to be cutting doctors and cutting services for patients,’ he said.
Dr Duff said the Minister for Health was asked to retain the junior doctors but he refused on the basis that the positions that were created last year were in response to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Dr Duff said he argued that the pandemic hasn’t gone away. ‘If anything,’ he said, ‘the community numbers are higher than they were a year ago; there are new variants coming in every day, and since we have a vaccine that is currently on hold, we need these doctors now more than ever.’
The online campaign called Keep Our Doctors has, according to the campaign organiser, support across the political spectrum, across the country, because no one wants to see doctors and patients suffer.
He encouraged readers of The Southern Star to contact their local TDs in South West Cork to urge Minister Donnelly not to go ahead with these cuts.
At the moment, he said hospitals are ‘coping’ because they are well staffed and the number of Covid-19 cases has gone down since the peak this winter.
However, he said: ‘This isn’t the time to become complacent. This isn’t the time to cut down on doctors.
‘If we are hundreds of doctors short this July, it will make our jobs more difficult. And if we have another wave, this July, when this lockdown ends the health service will be in serious trouble.’
He said discussions with the HSE was extremely disappointing. ‘The HSE,’ he said, ‘is planning to go ahead with these cuts to doctors across the country for purely financial reasons.
‘We believe that patient care will suffer. People will take longer to see their doctors, if there are fewer intern doctors working. They will take longer to recover from chest infections and operations.
‘We want to see our hospitals safely staffed. We want to see patient gets better in Cork, Bantry and across Ireland.’
The HSE said: ‘At the height of the pandemic, intern numbers were increased to deal with the service pressures. This increase was an emergency measure in direct response to the pandemic and it was not planned and was never intended to be sustained.’