Letterkenny University Hospital
Donegal is set to lose 30% of newly qualified doctors working in Letterkenny University Hospital despite the fact the Covid-19 pandemic is still a major health concern here.
Now a campaign has been launched to save these and other doctors like them around the country who will be forced to emigrate if they are not kept on.
According to a spokesman for the Keep Our Doctors campaign, Dr Cormac Duff, the HSE plans to cut 30% of newly-qualified doctors in Donegal.
“In July, Letterkenny University Hospital will lose seven of its current 23 intern doctors,” he claimed.
Dr Duff explained how last year, as the Covid-19 pandemic emerged, 350 additional intern jobs were created, allowing every graduating doctor the chance to stay and work in Ireland.
“This year, as the pandemic and resultant health crisis continue, the decision has been made not to offer the additional jobs to the 2021 cohort of interns.
“As a result of this decision, the vast majority of international graduating doctors will be forced to leave Ireland to work as doctors,” he said.
An intercollegiate group of medical students, both Irish and international, are now calling on Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly to reverse this decision and allow these hundreds of doctors to stay and continue to serve the country they have come to call home.
An online petition has garnered over 4,000 signatures in one week.
“Our health service will be left ever more understaffed – and most importantly, our patients will suffer.”
Dr Duff added people in Donegal could help prevent the cuts in a number of ways.
“People can contact their local TDs to help retain the doctors in Letterkenny. The TDs can approach Minister Donnelly or ask questions in the Dáil through parliamentary questions.
“They can also sign our online petition and use our Twitter hashtag #KeepOurDoctors but it's really at local level where we can make a difference.
“The interns are the doctors on the ground who are looking after the day to day treatment of patients so if there are fewer interns working, people will be spending longer in hospital, it will take them longer to recover from operations .”
He added fewer doctors would also affect outpatient clinics which could mean even longer waiting lists to see a doctor and could mean more pressure on the working hours for the current doctors at the hospital and more 'burn out'.
Dr Duff said with over 500 people a day being affected by Covid-19, a vaccine programme which was currently on pause and new variants of the disease emerging, it wasn't the best time to start reducing the number of doctors available.
“These cuts are due to come in on July 12 but we have no idea how much of the country will be vaccinated by then and how bad Covid will be so now is not the time to gamble with that or gamble on things being back to normal in four months.
“This decision doesn't make any sense.
"We've been crying out for more doctors for years, well before Covid-19. Waiting lists for Irish patients have been getting longer for things like hip and knee replacements and organ transplants and lists in Letterkenny are the same.
"This will pose a crisis for healthcare in Donegal if it happens You could have a very difficult situation here if people start going over the border to parties and pubs and potentially pick up the UK variant of Covid-19 which is more contagious. It could lead to a very difficult situation for Donegal and the border counties,” he said.
People can also sign the Keep Our Doctors online petition at https://www.change.org/p/
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