Altnagelvin A&E Crisis highlights need for more Medical places -McCartney

Sinn Féin’s Raymond McCartney MLA commenting on the Assembly motion calling for a Medical School at Magee and the reports of inadequate resources at Altnagelvin A&E said that it highlights the recognition by all parties for the need for an increase in the number of medical graduates.

Mr McCartney said:

MLA Raymond McCartney
MLA Raymond McCartney

“This crisis is not limited to the current issue around A&E services at Altnagelvin and other Hospitals in the North, it is an all-Ireland problem. Whether in Belfast, Monaghan, Donegal or Derry the common denominator seems to be the shortage of Junior Doctors and Consultants.

“Sinn Féin has long advocated an increase in the number of Medical graduate places available at our Universities and particularly for locating a Medical School at Magee University Campus in Derry.

“As far back as December 2004 my colleague and former Foyle MLA, Mitchel McLaughlin met with then Provost of Magee, Professor Tom Fraser to discuss the issue. Among a range of topics discussed was the need for additional Medical training facilities and the case for such a faculty at Magee that would attract entrants from across the island.

“Maeve McLaughlin as a former Chair of the Assembly Health Committee also championed the establishment of a Medical Faculty at Magee as part of the much needed expansion of the campus.

“At present the limited number of places available at existing Medical faculties on the island cannot cope with the increased need for Doctors in our Hospitals. Although those Doctors recruited from other
countries do an excellent job it should not be a substitute for training our own Medical staff.

“In my opinion the case for a Medical faculty at Magee would be greatly enhanced by utilising the local Hospitals on either side of the border – Altnagelvin and Letterkenny. As a recognition that health care is best served through integrated planning on an all-Ireland basis   recruiting could be on a 50/50 basis in each jurisdiction. Logistically and economically this approach makes sense.

“It is an accepted fact that Medical Students generally enter practice or take up positions in hospitals in close proximity to where they study following graduation The Health Service is already struggling to cope with the demands placed on it. Many hospitals are finding it increasingly difficult to recruit sufficient junior doctors and consultants to fill vacancies caused by a shortage of local medical graduates.

“I believe that now with cross-party support in the Assembly, Minister O’Neill, in conjunction with the Irish government should give serious consideration to establishing a Medical  Faculty at Magee to help address a situation across the island that can only get worse if we don’t produce the required number of Medical graduates.”