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Master of Rotunda Hospital Calls for Greater Doctor Availability

The Master of the Rotunda Hospital has called on the government for an increase in senior doctor availability to reduce the number of birth negligence cases at the facility.

The Master of the Rotunda Hospital in Dublin-Dr Sam Coulter-Smith-has called on the HSE to address the problem of senior doctor availability. He claims that if more senior doctors were available in his facility, there would be a significant increase in the care offered to patients, and thus a reduction medical negligence cases. He made a particular reference to the number of cerebral palsy cases handled by the HSE.

Dr Sam Coulter-Smith made his address to the Health Service Executive while speaking to doctors, midwives and families at a conference aimed at reducing the number of medical negligence cerebral palsy cases in Ireland.

Dr Coulter-Smith said that the number of medical negligence cerebral palsy cases each year was the same as it was two decades ago. This is in spite of an increase in foetal monitoring and births by Caesarean section, and general improvements in the technology available to staff. He attributed this statistic to the preventable mistakes were being made by inexperienced medical staff.

He further stated that under the current consultant contracts, senior doctors only have to work in a hospital between 8.00am and 8.00pm. Outside of those hours they could be on call at home. This delay in their arrival to the hospital could be catastrophic in the case of an emergeny.

Dr Coulter-Smith said that this lack of senior staff caused junior doctors to make decisions regarding the health of mothers and babies, despite being largely inexperienced. He said “there needs to be 24/7 cover of labour wards by senior doctors to address this problem”.

He explained that staff at the hospital had introduced measures with the aim of helping to reduce the number of medical negligence cerebral palsy cases. A second tier of experienced doctors had been established who were available at the hospital when an emergency occurred outside of “normal” hours.

However, he admitted that these measures were contrary to the advice given by the Health Service Executive. The government body had asked the Rotunda Hospital to reduce the number of medical staff, and he called on the HSE to address the problem concerning the problem of senior doctor availability. He commented that the amount the State spent each year on paying compensation for medical negligence cerebral palsy cases was equivalent to his hospital´s annual budget. Therefore, increasing the number of senior doctors available would be a good investment.

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