A doctor who was employed as a junior physician at a busy eating hospital received generous grades of 55 of 100 for clinical medical and diagnostic skills during his work interview – even though he had no experience in treating patients.
In the case of the EU-trained physician as retired at the hospital, he has again raised serious concerns about shortcomings in recruitment procedures that enable doctors with understanding skills to go through and put patients at risk.
Health Minister Simon Harris said yesterday that he had written to the HSE, requesting an urgent response to the High Court judge Peter Kelly's comments on "an obvious danger to patients" when he granted an order that canceled the doctor.
Mr Justice Kelly wondered how the interviewer ended the doctor was "short experience" when he actually had "none at all".
Harris said he has now asked the HSE to speed up a review of recruitment procedures.
The doctor, whose case occurred this week, was rejected for other hospital services due to lack of experience and had just been an "observer". But he ended up getting 195 out of 325 possible points in the interview. Within a few days, senior physicians were worried that he "lacked basic skills".
The Medical Council, which regulates doctors and sought the suspension order, said yesterday it could not comment on this specific case.
But a spokesman said: "The Medical Council shares the concerns raised by Justin Kelly in connection with the recruitment of junior doctors with appropriate levels of experience and qualifications, and we have previously expressed our concern for HSE and medical recruitment companies."
He said that if a doctor is registered, it does not mean that they are appropriate for each role. "It is with employers to determine whether a doctor is appropriate to meet the requirements of a post, and to ensure that they are supported and appropriately supervised in their role."
Due to the provisions on freedom of movement, the same test of knowledge and clinical competence of EU-qualified doctors as non-EU doctors is required not to be registered.
Asked about what kind of protective measures it has, HSE said that recruitment of junior doctors is being carried out at the hospitals.
If a candidate reaches the short stage, they should "be reviewed to ensure that they meet the eligibility criteria for the post" and interviewed by a three-person board. "Each candidate is examined about the core competencies and skills described in the job specification."
The HSE is currently reviewing its recruitment model "to ensure it meets the needs of global talent skills, along with future requirements for Sláintecare and ensuring compliance with its statutory obligations, but also ensuring best practice in its appointment process."
Ask to comment on the pressure against hospital desperate for medical coverage, Dr. John Duddy, from the Irish medical organization, saying some hospitals may be desperate to fill high-rise office posts. There are particular problems to find these doctors in obstetrics, surgery, anesthesia and orthopedics, "says Dr. Duddy, a trainee neurosurgeon in Cork.
Doctors can have "minimum minimum qualifications" on paper, he said. "So many hospitals are dependent on doctors in training places to meet staff rotas and keep the hospital running." A proper induction program would attract better physicians, he said.