UNIVERSITY Hospital Limerick management is disputing figures published this week which say that Limerick has the highest percentage of vacant consultant posts in the country.
The Irish Hospital Consultants Association has hit out at the vacancies after the HSE’s National Planning and Doctors Training Unit produced figures showing that of the 728 posts not filled, 52 of them were for UHL.
But a spokesman for the hospital has told the Limerick Post that “the number of vacant consultant posts across the six hospitals in the University of Limerick Hospitals Group is just 18.
He said that two of these posts are currently filled by locums, a further nine have been offered to successful candidates following a recruitment process and, of these, seven have agreed start dates in 2021.
“Some of these vacant posts are new posts which have only been approved in recent months. One of these new posts is currently advertised and there are plans to advertise further posts in early 2021 also.”
In a statement responding to the wider situation, the HSE said that along with the Public Appointments Service, it is “exploring and utilising all current and future avenues and opportunities available to fill vacant consultant posts.
“Of the 728 posts referred to as vacant, 489 of these posts are filled at present albeit on a temporary basis”.
However, a spokesperson said that the HSE recognises that consultant recruitment is a challenging area.
“In the past 12 months, the number of posts filled under fixed-term or specified purpose contracts has increased by 267 from 499 to 766.
“It would be misleading to describe this as an increase in vacant posts as these posts are filled.
“It is expected that the increase in such posts will be reversed when the Sláintecare contract is introduced as a permanent contract,” the statement concluded.