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Hospital inspections: Trainee doctors left unsupervised and male interns getting preferential treatment

The Medical Council has published its findings from inspections at nine hospitals in the south, west and north-west.

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THE MEDICAL COUNCIL has published a set of reports into inspections carried out at nine hospitals, and found deficiencies in specialist training standards across the two hospital groups involved.

Issues identified by the Medical Council inspectors included interns being asked to perform duties above their grade, trainees left unsupervised when a consultant was absent for a week, allegations of bullying and, in one site, male interns reporting receiving preferential treatment from nurses, compared to that of their female colleagues.

The inspections were conducted by the statutory body at the Saolta Hospital Group – at Galway University Hospital, Letterkenny UH, Portiuncula UH and Sligo UH – and the South/South West Hospital Group – at University Hospital Kerry, South Tipperary General Hospital, Mercy UH, Cork UH and UH Waterford.

The purpose of the inspections was to assess if and how each clinical training site was complying with Medical Council standards.

Úna Rourke, director of education, training and professionalism at the Medical Council said that although the nine hospitals were for the most part at least partially compliant, “numerous similar issues arose across many of the clinical training sites”.

She said: “These issues, such as allegations of bullying, a lack of respect shown to trainees and lack of protected time, are widely known and are repeatedly highlighted in other ways.”

The issue of protected time – where the intern or trainee focuses exclusively on training and education – was raised at all nine hospitals and the Medical Council said that delivery of services is repeatedly prioritised over education due to a “lack of resources”.

Other issues identified included trainees taking consent when unqualified or untrained, interns being heavily involved in basic administrative and medical procedures rather than training, and bullying claims that went unchallenged.

Poor or no WiFi access was also an issue raised at a number of sites.

In all, Saolta was 7% non-compliant in specialist training standards, and at least partially compliant in intern training standards. For the South/South West group, 3% of intern standards were non-compliant while 8% was non-compliant.

Dr Rita Doyle, Medical Council president, added: “Interns and NCHDs (non consultant hospital doctors) must have the resources required to allow them to treat their patients and to develop their skills while furthering their education.

When doctors are overworked without appropriate rest periods and breaks this can lead to an impact on their physical and mental wellbeing and, in turn, could become a patient safety issue.

You can view the individual reports here.

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Sean Murray

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