Tuesday 22 May 2018

Boss of Holles Street fears a brain drain of 'bright young doctors'

Rhona Mahony of Holles Street
Rhona Mahony of Holles Street

The Master of the National Maternity Hospital, Holles Street, has warned that more needs to be done to keep "bright young doctors'"in the Irish maternity hospitals.

Dr Rhona Mahony echoed a stark warning from Rotunda master Sam Coulter-Smith who cautioned about a "dumbing down" in the sector.

"It's a high-risk specialty and it's not the specialty to cut corners in," Dr Mahony said.

"We're having a lot of difficulty retaining and recruiting staff," she told the Herald.

"The upshot of having a low number of doctors is that everything becomes patient-orientated and it overwhelms the training opportunities.

"It's really important that our hospitals have time to train young doctors because otherwise the bright young doctors will go elsewhere where they can get the best training," she said.

"This is not good for patients. We've really got to sit back and look at this as an urgent issue at how we are going to increase people in the specialty."

Support for those already working in the maternity sector was also something that needs to be improved she said as morale is suffering.

"It's a very negative environment at the moment and the guys who are left doing the work are working as hard as they can and they're actually producing great outcomes," she explained.


"It seems all the time the messages are very negative and we are seeing some great work in maternity hospitals and great outcomes."

"It's very important that we support the frontline."

While training opportunities for young doctors are limited, there is also an over-reliance on trainee doctors in the health service at the moment, which was not what women in their care want, Dr Mahony said.

Increasing the number of consultants is the only way to improve the current services, she said.

"In order to meet the demands of service and the demands of training we need to absolutely increase our consultant numbers.

"That will be good for training and good for patients because we would attract the best doctors."

"There have been so many reports over the last few years and it's really disappointing that we haven't addressed the deficiencies.

"The key message all the way is that for patients' sake we need to increase the number of consultants, not by a little but by a lot.

"I'm at this [obstetrics] 20 years and the staffing levels have not increased.

"Our patients have increased by 50pc in Holles Street from just over 6,000 deliveries to 9,000 with no significant parallel increase in staff," she said.

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