Northern Ireland

Daisy Hill Hospital, Newry, struggling to recruit top doctor

Daisy Hill Hospital
Image caption The health minister told MLAs Daisy Hill Hospital's emergency department "has been wholly dependent on one doctor" who is about to retire within weeks

A hospital in Newry, County Down, is having difficulty recruiting senior doctors to run its emergency department, the assembly has been told.

Daisy Hill Hospital has now only one senior emergency department consultant, but he is due to retire within weeks.

The Southern Trust advertised the job three times but it remains unfilled.

Health Minister Michelle O'Neill said she was "aware of the problems" and was looking at additional measures "to make the post more attractive".

She added that the health trust is "doing absolutely everything it can to make sure that the doors are kept open and services are still provided".

"If we have to use locums in the meantime, that is what we will have to do, but it is about delivering services."

The issue was raised in the Northern Ireland Assembly by Newry and Armagh MLA Justin McNulty, from the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP).

He asked: "Will the minister give me and the people of Newry and the surrounding area a categorical guarantee that Daisy Hill will retain its 24-hours-a-day, seven-days-a-week emergency department for many years to come?"

Mrs O'Neill, from Sinn Féin said: "I could never give a cast-iron guarantee to anybody, and it would be irresponsible of me to do so, but I will give a guarantee that I will work every day to deliver better health outcomes for individuals."

She told MLAs that the problems facing Daisy Hill was "reflective of the challenges that we have across the health and social care workforce".

"We are finding it very difficult to recruit consultants, particularly for emergency departments, so we have to look at new and innovative ways of attracting people to the posts."

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