Doctor shortage as SWAH struggles to attract top talent

IT’S PROBABLY the most admired hospital building in the country, yet the state-of-the-art South West Acute Hospital is still struggling to recruit the small number of medical staff it needs to operate properly.
The Western Trust has insisted that no services are under threat at SWAH, despite a critical shortage of consultants at the hospital.
With recruitment efforts ongoing at the moment, the Trust has revealed
consultants are to be bussed in from other parts of the North to help it cope with the shortage in the short term.
The shortage is in general surgery, with the hospital’s staff surgical services supposed to be led by a team of six consultants. Currently there are only four at the hospital, and with two further retirements expected in the coming months, the hospital is finding it difficult to cover its rota.
Last week an urgent summit was held between the Trust, other trusts, and the Department of Health, to address the issue at SWAH. At the meeting, it was agreed that consultants from other trusts would travel to SWAH between now and March 2021.
“The region needs to come together and offer support to the team at the SWAH,” said director of acute services Ms Geraldine McKay. “What we’re asking for is their participation in the out of hours emergency rota to start with up until March 2021.”
In the meantime, the Trust is continuing its efforts to attract more staff to the hospital, and it is currently in the process of hiring new consultants for SWAH. Part of the problem, Ms McKay explained, was finding the right staff. The other part was then convincing them to come live in Fermanagh.
“We’re not unique across the region, having a problem recruiting general surgeons,” she said. “General surgery itself has changed dramatically over the last number of years. There’s more specialisation within the service of general surgery. Therefore, to find a good general surgeon is quite difficult.”
With regard the local area, Ms McKay said the Trust was about to embark on a PR campaign, along with others such as the Council, promoting Fermanagh “as a great place to start a life, live, work, and grow old, and to show the great infrastructure we have at SWAH.”

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