Updated: 06/09/17 : 05:51:13
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Locum doctors' work stoppage risks patients safety says Sligo consultant

Emergency services in Navan Hospital were among the worst hit as it struggled to remain open after locum doctors refused to turn up for work in a row over pay.

The Irish Association of Emergency Medicine warns the action could spread to other hospitals.

Consultant in Emergency Medicine at Sligo University Hospital Fergal Hickey admits that patients are likely to suffer.

He told Ocean FM, "We don't have the bed capacity to admit people in a timely fashion then presented with the problem of not having enough doctors to see them is only going to make the situation worse. Unfortunately it risks patients' safety."

Fears for patient safety are rising as several overcrowded A&E departments across the country struggled to provide adequate medical cover yesterday.

Surgeons and staff who are on annual leave were called on to help deliver the service with 19 patients on trolleys in Navan Hospital yesterday morning.

Other hospitals have also been hit - including Letterkenny General, Portlaoise, Naas and Tralee - because of a reliance on locum doctors, who are freelancers employed by agencies.

The doctors, who are essential to maintaining services due to the shortage of full-time medics, are angry at the cut in pay which has reduced their rate per hour from 40 to 34 - generating a saving of 53m in the HSE's agency bill over four years.

On top of emergency departments, the locums also boycotted shifts in others areas of hospitals including anaesthesia and surgery.