Staff shortages have forced the hospital in Mullingar to erect a massive advertising hoarding on the hospital exterior seeking nurses.
The drastic move has come after visits to recruitment fairs in both Dublin and London failed to secure enough staff to fill the vacant slots.
These vacant posts, she said, are currently covered by a combination of agency and overtime shifts.
“The recruitment for staff in nursing and midwifery is ongoing and is in line with the nursing and midwifery staff shortage across Ireland.
However, the staff shortages aren’t confined to the nursing and midwifery fields: just last week, at the monthly meeting of the Dublin/Mid-Leinster Regional Health Forum, the HSE informed Cllr Mick Dollard that there were staff vacancies “across several disciplines” at the Regional Hospital Mullingar, and the IEHG has also confirmed that there is a dermatology vacancy.
In response to a written query from Cllr Dollard on vacancy levels, the HSE said it was making “every effort” to fill all vacancies, and that it was actively working with Health Business Services (HBS) National Recruitment on the issue.
“In addition, the hospital has attended three recruitment fairs recently, in Dublin and London, in order to attract candidates to vacant positions,” the response concluded.
“I’ve been contacted by patients who are very upset about this: they’ve had their appointments cancelled and been told that there area no future appointments being made as currently there is no replacement for Dr. Wynne,” said Deputy Troy.
“These patients need ongoing care, and it seems crazy that we’ve arrived at the stage where there is no specialist in this area to care for them.”
Ms Kohn revealed that the dermatology services post issue wasn’t a problem unique to this area:
“Nationally, many hospitals are experiencing an increase in waiting lists arising from a shortage of dermatologists. The Ireland East Hospital Group (IEHG) approved the appointment of a locum post to assist with the waiting list in Mullingar in 2017 however, despite several attempts the hospital has been unable to fill this post,” Ms Kohn said.
Attempts to deal with the issue are being made, she explained, saying that IEHG and the Regional hospital in Mullingar “are currently progressing a number of options to put in a place a temporary and long-term solution”.
In February of this year, on foot of a parliamentary question raised by Deputy Troy the HSE wrote to him stating that “despite repeated attempts” since May 2013 to secure the services of a consultant orthodontist, the position remained vacant, although the overall service currently consists of 2.6 whole-time-equivalent specialist orthodontists supported by dental nurses and clerical staff.