Local MLA Karen McKevitt has called for action from the Health Minister to counter the continuing issue of staffing in the Emergency Department of Daisy Hill Hospital.  In a written response to Mrs McKevitt, the Minister of Health detailed that despite advertising 29 vacant positions over 6 months, no positions were filled with a very small number applicants.

Daisy Hill Hospital. Photograph: Columba O'Hare
Daisy Hill Hospital. Photograph: Columba O'Hare

Mrs McKevitt said: “It is disappointing that 29 vacant positions in the Emergency Department in Daisy Hill Hospital, advertised over the last six months, remain unfilled. Two Specialty Doctors have been appointed to the Emergency Department, Daisy Hill Hospital over the past six months.

“I have spoken with Senior Management in the Southern Health and Social Care Trust and received assurances that the Trust is taking action to attract the right people to these posts and that the Emergency Department service will remain operational on a full-time basis.    

“Health Trusts collectively spent over £50 million on temporary staff alone where their focus should be to reduce this number and recruit permanent staff as a cost saving measure. The Minister and the Department of Health have failed to deal with workforce planning and the consequences are being felt by staff working under intolerable pressure. The increasing workload coupled with pay freezes are damaging morale and damaging prospects attracting new staff. The current rate of vacancies is only exacerbating this problem. The uncertainty over junior doctor contracts is also a factor that is discouraging doctors from finding work here. 

“Reports on high waiting times for Emergency Services across the region demonstrate the need for urgent and decisive action on these issues. I suspect that the difficulty for recruiting doctors to Emergency Departments is not unique to the Southern Trust. By addressing these problems the Minister can begin to tackle Emergency room waiting times that have spiralled out of control.”

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