ONE of the country's top medical experts has revealed that many junior doctors have ended up crashing their cars because of overwork.
Hospital sources and politicians have expressed alarm at the admission -- made by the Irish Medical Organisation's Dr Mark Murphy.
The IMO has warned the Government that lives are being put at risk, with many junior doctors working up to 100 hours per week. Dr Murphy said he knows junior doctors who have had road accidents due to exhaustion.
"It's brutal. You work 100 hours one week, and 65 hours another week -- it poses a risk to patient safety, the ability to retain information deteriorates, there is increased risk of needle-stick injuries and road traffic accidents," he said.
"I personally know many (junior doctors) who have crashed their cars after working late hours," he added.
Senior medical sources have admitted that junior doctors are "under enormous pressure" during their day to day work.
"They are being worked to the bone," a senior consultant told the Herald.
Fianna Fail health spokesperson Billy Kelleher described Dr Murphy's claims as "hugely alarming".
"We're looking at a situation where we have doctors who have young families, working unacceptable hours and, through no fault of their own, putting their own and patients' lives at risk.
"There can be no further pressure heaped on doctors."
A HSE spokesperson said: "The HSE has recently undertaken the recruitment of a substantial number of additional doctors from India and Pakistan to address existing vacancies within hospitals and to reduce the current working hours of doctors."
Since 2009, the HSE has been focused on reducing (junior doctors') working hours to achieve compliance with the European Working Time Directive. It would not comment on Dr Murphy's remarks.