Fine Gael Senator and Member of the Oireachtas Health Committee, Seán Kyne has called on the HSE to continue with the additional hospital intern posts this year on account of the ongoing impact of the Covid-19 Pandemic.
Senator Kyne said: “While thankfully we have thousands of the three approved vaccines being administered every day, our Health Service continues to face unprecedented challenges due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
“Last April, Fine Gael in Government provided funded for an extra 300 medical intern posts which increased the number of interns from the standard 734 posts.
“At yesterday’s Oireachtas Health Committee meeting, Dr Colm Henry, Chief Clinical Officer of the HSE, confirmed to me the increased allocation brought to 992 the number of medical interns in our hospitals providing essential work in our battle with Covid-19.
“In addition, the fact the incoming interns started in May rather than early July, as in ordinary times, ensured crucial assistance as our frontline healthcare workers cared for unparalleled numbers of critically ill patients.
“Dr Henry further confirmed that the overlap between those who started in May and the outgoing interns who finished in July was helpful and beneficial and provided the opportunity for the interns to learn from those interns who has direct experience of the impact of the pandemic on our hospitals.
“While I acknowledge and welcome Dr Henry’s confirmation that work at the HSE’s National Doctors Planning and Training Unit is ongoing and will likely result in additional intern posts in the longer-term, now is not the time to reduce the number of intern posts.
“Given the ongoing Covid-19 Pandemic, the uncertainty regarding the impact of new variants and the logistical challenges facing the vaccine rollout, it makes complete sense to retain the extra intern posts for at least another year.
“As Covid-19 cases continue to fall there will be an inevitable increase in non-Covid related care as hospitals get back to normal and people who were reluctant to physically attend hospitals on account of the Covid risk begin to do so.
“The HSE should use the increased budget it has received this year to recruit at least the same number of interns – 992 – this summer as it did last summer,” Senator Kyne concluded.