Doctors Strike Over ‘dangerous’ Hours

Public hospitals are offering the level of service usually provided on a Sunday but 12,000 out-patient appointments have had to be rescheduled and 3,000 surgical procedures postponed to a later date. Dr John Donnellan, chairman of the IMO’s non-consultant hospital doctors committee, said: “Members are worried for the risks they pose to their patients and to themselves by current working conditions.” In a recent survey of work patterns, 85% of junior doctors (NCHDs) said they routinely work shifts of more than 24 hours. The IMO wants an immediate end to shifts of that length and clarity on how the Health and Safety Executive will meet its commitment to ensure no doctor works longer than 48 hours a week by the end of next year. The Irish Patients Association voiced support for the doctors cause but not for the “means to that end” and called for patients affected by the strike to be made a priority. Chief Executive Stephen McMahon said: “We dont want the patients affected today to become emergencies.” He welcomed the news that appointments and surgeries in private hospitals would go ahead as planned. The Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation also expressed support for the junior doctors although its members have been advised not to undertake the duties of those taking part in industrial action. The IMO said proposals published by the Health Service Executive lacked credibility. Talks between them at the Labour Relations Commission have broken down, with the IMO refusing an invitation to go back. With talk of the strike escalating to 48 hours next week, one cardiologist branded the action “morally reprehensible” and urged the junior doctors to find other ways to protest. Professor Eoin OBrien said no one could estimate how many of the patients affected will suffer what may be a fatal outcome as a result of their treatment being delayed.

her response

Study identifies poorly performing doctors

It aimed to describe how often doctors are referred because of performance-related concerns, and to see if there were common features of the doctors referred. This sort of study is good for describing the trends and differences between subgroups within the data. It is not intended to explain why these differences might be occurring. What did the research involve? Doctors: fit for practice or fit for purpose NCAS is separate to the professional regulator, the General Medical Council (GMC) . The GMC determines whether a doctor is fit to practice at all; NCAS seeks to establish whether they are “fit for purpose”. The researchers examined data collected by NCAS on the referral of 6,179 doctors between April 2001 and March 2012. NCAS is a national body that assesses doctors’ clinical performance. It was created initially as the National Clinical Assessment Authority following recommendations made in two reports by the chief medical officer for England. Doctors who feel they are in difficulty can self-refer, or referrals can be made from any healthcare organisation in the NHS. NCAS gives advice on how to handle the initial situation, such as a patient complaint. If serious enough, NCAS then carries out a full assessment of the doctor to identify options for resolution of the problems encountered. The service began to operate in England in 2001, in Wales in 2003, in Northern Ireland in 2005, and in Scotland in 2008. What were the basic results? The researchers found that: five doctors per 1,000 were referred per year doctors who gained their first medical qualification outside the UK were more than twice as likely to be referred compared with UK-qualified doctors male doctors were more than twice as likely to be referred compared with female doctors doctors in the late stages of their career (aged 55 years or older) were almost six times as likely to be referred compared with doctors early in their career (under 35 years old) the highest rates of concern were seen in doctors working in psychiatry and obstetrics and gynaecology How did the researchers interpret the results?

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