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Ennis Hospital.

Doctors departures are a ‘crushing blow’

THE shock departure of three registrars from Ennis Hospital has been described as a “crushing blow” for local acute services.

Two experienced senior registrars, who treated patients in both Ennis and St Joseph’s Geriatric hospitals for over six years, have tendered their resignations. It is expected that Dr Kamal and Dr Haroon will finish up by the end of the year, while Dr Umbreen has decided not to renew her contract, which was up at the start of December.

The Clare Champion has learned that the introduction of a new rota system, which involves registrars carrying out the task of senior house officers (SHO) after 5pm, which would be a demotion following years of training, was a major factor that influenced their decisions to leave.

The Mid-West HSE has played down their departures stating “there is nothing unusual in doctors moving from one hospital to another”.

“The employer is obliged to obey the law and, in this case, the European Working Time Directive,” said a HSE spokesman.

However, the loss of the entire complement of registrar staff has been regarded as a setback for the hospital by HSE West Forum member, Councillor Brian Meaney, who said it is a “crushing blow” for local acute health services.

“Every effort should be made to retain these registrars in Ennis Hospital. There is no good having state-of-the-art facilities at Ennis Hospital, if the staffing expertise isn’t there to continue providing the best treatment for patients,” he said.

The new rota has been introduced in the Mid-West to comply with the European Working Time Directive (EWTD), which requires hospitals to ensure that all doctors do not work more than 48 hours a week.

There was originally four registrars and four SHO based at the hospital, who were working within the group but one registrar and one SHO were moved to UHL a few weeks ago. They all work and report to three hospital consultants in Ennis Hospital and St Joseph’s.

It is understood that the trio are not in dispute with local management or the HSE and decided their new terms of employment of going back to junior level at night did not suit them.

They had proposed that another one or two junior doctors could be hired to allow them to continue working as registrars, but this was not deemed acceptable.

It seems the HSE want to implement this rota with fewer doctors, which medical staff believe is difficult to achieve. Under the new combined rota system, only one registrar or SHO will be on duty in the hospital after 5pm. Previously, a registrar would have worked with a SNO at night.

One health worker expressed disappointment with the loss of the three doctors. “The three doctors know every patient because two of them have been in the system for a long number of years. Everyone has great faith in their ability.

“I brought a patient who was nearly 90 years of age into the hospital. She received her treatment, was sorted out and discharged home quickly. It is a total insult to ask them to go back to working as a senior house officer after 5pm in a post they had left years ago.

“They were three outstanding doctors. We were so lucky to have them,” the worker said.

Dr Umbreen, who has worked as a registrar for the last two years, said she had decided to leave because the new rota did not suit her and stressed she is not in dispute with the HSE or local management. She acknowledged the rota had to be introduced to comply with the national EWTD.

Dr Kamal said he was leaving for “personal reasons”, while efforts to contact Dr Haroon proved unsuccessful.

Dan Danaher

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