Press Release

Minister Martin launches Task Force on Medical Staffing

Minister for Health and Children, Mr Micheál Martin TD, today (21 February 2002) formally launched the National Task Force on Medical Staffing which will prepare and cost an implementation plan for a new approach to hospital services, based on appropriately trained doctors providing patients with the highest quality service.

The Task Force will prepare detailed implementation programmes based on two key reports published last year, the “Hanly Report” on the phased reduction of the working hours of non-consultant hospital doctors (NCHDs) and the Report of the Medical Manpower Forum. The implementation programmes will be addressed in the context of the new health strategy: Quality and Fairness – A Health System for You.

The Task Force will be chaired by Mr David Hanly, who has extensive experience in the health area. He chaired the previous group on reducing NCHD working hours and has also chaired Comhairle na nOspidéal.

The Minister said that the key work of the Task Force will be to:

  • Oversee the implementation of detailed strategies for reducing the working hours of NCHDs, so that a 48-hour working is achieved by 2009
  • Address the associated medical staffing needs of the Irish hospital system
  • Analyse the practicalities and estimate the costs that would arise if a consultant-provided (rather than consultant-led) system was in place
  • Consider the medical education and training requirements arising from any changes to the current model of delivering services. A project group chaired by Dr. Jane Buttimer will deal with this issue.

The Minister wished the Task Force every success in its very important work and thanked its members for agreeing to contribute their expertise and experience to this initiative.

The inaugural meeting of the Task Force takes place today. Details of its membership and terms of reference are below.

Membership – National Task Force on Medical Staffing

Steering Group

  •  Mr David Hanly, Independent Chairperson
  • Mr Frank Ahern, Director of Human Resources, Department of Health & Children
  • Mr Paul Barron, Assistant Secretary, Department of Health and Children
  • Dr Richard Brennan, Chairperson, Irish College of General Practitioners
  • Dr Jane Buttimer, Medical Director, National Task Force/Education & Training
  • Mr Jim Breslin, Senior Commissioner, Eastern Regional Health Authority
  • Mr Rory Costello, Health Services Employers Agency
  • Ms Geraldine Feeney (representing the public interest) – Chair Medical Council Ethics Committee
  • Dr Kate Ganter, Consultant Child & Adolescent Psychiatrist, Lucena Clinic, Dublin
  • Dr Asam Ishtiaq, Registrar (Surgery), Waterford Regional Hospital
  • Mr Nicky Jermyn, Chief Executive Officer, St Vincent´s University Hospital
  • Dr Verena Keane, Consultant Psychiatrist in Learning Disability, St Vincent´s Centre Navan Rd & St Michael´s House
  • Dr Peter Kelly, Consultant Histopathologist, Mater Hospital
  • Dr Jim Kiely, Chief Medical Officer, Department of Health and Children
  • Professor Gerry Loftus, Consultant Paediatrician, University College Hospital Galway / Chair Postgraduate Medical and Dental Board
  • Mr Jim McCaffrey, Assistant Secretary, Department of Finance
  • Ms Mary McCarthy, Chief Nursing Officer, Department of Health and Children
  • Dr Mick Molloy, Registrar (Emergency Medicine), St Vincent´s University Hospital
  • Mr Pawan Rajpal, Consultant General Surgeon (with a special interest in Gastro-intestinal Surgery) Cavan/Monaghan General Hospital
  • Dr Sheelah Ryan, Chief Executive Officer, Western Health Board
  • Professor Arthur Tanner, Consultant General Surgeon, Tallaght Hospital, Dean Postgraduate Studies, Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland
  • Ms Vivienne Tegg, Director of Human Resources, South Eastern Health Board
  • Dr Cillian Twomey, Consultant Physician in Geriatric Medicine, Cork University Hospital / Chair, Comhairle na nOspidéal
  • Dr Dermot Walsh, Inspector of Mental Hospitals, Department of Health and Children
  • Ms Frances Walsh, Physiotherapist Manager, Cork University Hospital

The Task Force Secretariat will be provided by the Department of Health and Children. The Project Director, Mr Fergal Lynch, will participate at all Task Force meetings.

Project Group – NCHD Working Hours

  • Chairperson – Mr David Hanly
  • Mr Paul Barron, Assistant Secretary, Department of Health and Children
  • Dr Jane Buttimer, Medical Director, National Task Force/Education & Training
  • Mr Rory Costello, Health Services Employers Agency
  • Mr Denis Doherty, Chief Executive, Health Boards Executive; Director, Office for Health Management
  • Ms Sheila Early, Medical Manpower Manager, Beaumont Hospital
  • Dr Mary Hynes, Regional Manager, Acute Services, Western Health Board
  • Dr Timothy Lynch, Consultant Neurologist, Mater Hospital
  • Mr Tommie Martin, Chief Officer, Comhairle na nOspidéal
  • Dr T J McKenna, Consultant Physician in Endocrinology & Diabetes Mellitus, St Vincent´s University Hospital
  • Dr Peter McKenna, Consultant Obstetrician & Gynaecologist, Rotunda Hospital
  • Dr Mick Molloy, Registrar (Emergency Medicine), St Vincent´s University Hospital
  • Dr Sean Murphy, Consultant Physician in Geriatric Medicine, Longford/Westmeath General Hospital
  • Mr Colman O´Leary, Consultant in Emergency Medicine, Limerick Regional Hospital
  • Ms Yvonne O´Shea, Chief Executive Officer, National Council for Nursing and Midwifery
  • Dr Dela Osthoff, Registrar (Child Psychiatry), St Anne´s Children´s Centre, Galway
  • Mr Pat Ring, Principal Officer, Department of Finance
  • Dr Eamonn Tierney, Consultant Anaesthetist, Wexford General Hospital
  • Mr Sean Tierney, Consultant General Surgeon (with a special interest in Vascular Surgery), Tallaght Hospital
  • Ms Frances Walsh, Physiotherapist Manager, Cork University Hospital

The Task Force Secretariat will be provided by the Department of Health and Children. The Project Director, Mr Fergal Lynch, will participate at all Task Force meetings.

  • Project Group – Medical Education & Training
  • Chairperson – Dr Jane Buttimer, Medical Director, National Task Force/Education & Training
  • Mr Frank Ahern, Director of Human Resources, Department of Health and Children
  • Dr Ruth Barrington, Chief Executive Officer, Health Research Board
  • Dr Richard Brennan, Chairperson, Irish College of General Practitioners
  • Professor Gerard Bury, President, Medical Council / Head of Department of General Practice, University College Dublin
  • Professor Anthony Clare, Consultant General Adult Psychiatrist, St Patrick´s Hospital
  • Dr Deborah Condell, Consultant Histopathologist, Cavan/Monaghan General Hospital
  • Dr Trevor Duffy, Specialist Registrar (Rheumatology), St Vincent´s University Hospital
  • Dr Patricia Fitzsimons, Consultant Radiologist, Sligo General Hospital
  • Mr John Gloster, Chief Officer, Postgraduate Medical and Dental Board
  • Mr John Hayden, Chief Executive, Higher Education Authority
  • Dr Asam Ishtiaq, Registrar (Surgery), Waterford Regional Hospital
  • Professor Gerry Loftus, Consultant Paediatrician, University College Hospital Galway / Chair Postgraduate Medical and Dental Board
  • Dr Eilis McGovern, Consultant Cardiothoracic Surgeon, St James´s Hospital
  • Mr Joe Mooney, Principal Officer, Department of Finance
  • Mr Pawan Rajpal, Consultant General Surgeon (with a special interest in Gastro-intestinal Surgery) Cavan/Monaghan General Hospital
  • Dr Jenny Porter, Consultant Anaesthetist, Longford/Westmeath General Hospital, Mullingar
  • Dr Cillian Twomey, Consultant Physician in Geriatric Medicine, Cork University Hospital / Chair Comhairle na nOspidéal

The Task Force Secretariat will be provided by the Department of Health and Children. The Project Director, Mr Fergal Lynch, will participate at all Task Force meetings.

Terms of Reference – National Task Force on Medical Staffing

1. Steering Group

“Co-ordinating the work of the Task Force and devising, costing and promoting implementation of a new model of hospital service delivery based on appropriately trained doctors providing patients with the highest quality service, using available resources as equitably, efficiently and effectively as possible.”

  1. The Steering Group will have an independent Chairperson appointed by the Minister for Health and Children for a period to be determined by the Minister. The members of the Steering Group will be also be appointed by the Minister for a period to be determined by the Minister. The Steering Group will report to the Minister.
  2. The Steering Group will co-ordinate and oversee the work of each of the Task Force´s Project Groups, including the Implementation Group on NCHD Working Hours and the Medical Education and Training Advisory Group. The Steering Group will comment on and revise as necessary draft reports or studies submitted to it by the Project Groups prior to submission to the Minister.
  3. The Steering Group will complete a detailed study, within an agreed timeframe, to quantify the resource implications and costs arising from the recommendations contained in the Report of the National Joint Steering Group on the Working Hours of Non Consultant Hospital Doctors and the Report of the Forum on Medical Manpower. To this end, the Steering Group may avail of such consultancy assistance as it deems appropriate, by agreement with the Minister.

The study should have particular regard to the desired benefits to public hospital patients, continuity of care, flexible work patterns, clinical responsibility, training, professional development and the effect on other health care professions and ancillary services arising from the recommendations contained in both Reports.

The study will, inter alia, focus on the specialty workload in the public hospital system with a view to identifying key areas for change.

4. The Steering Group will oversee pilot studies in a representative group of hospitals to assess new models of service delivery and patient care by appropriately trained doctors, with a view to providing the highest quality service, using available resources as equitably, efficiently and effectively as possible. These studies will be conducted in association with the relevant local hospital Working Groups.

5. The Steering Group will prepare national guidelines for health agencies to ensure national conformity and continuity on key areas of workforce planning.

6. The Steering Group will seek to devise innovative approaches to the future provision of hospital services on a best practice basis, with the involvement of each local hospital Working Group, and having regard to the recommendations of the Report of the National Joint Steering Group on the Working Hours of NCHDs and the Report of the Forum on Medical Manpower.

7. The Steering Group will undertake any other tasks that may be agreed from time to time with the Minister for Health and Children. The Steering Group will also review the Task Force´s structures and terms of reference as it deems necessary and make appropriate changes by agreement with the Minister.

2. Implementation Group on NCHD Working Hours

“Ensuring compliance, nationally and locally, with the EU Working Time Directive´s requirements for phased reductions in the working hours of non-consultant hospital doctors.”

  1. The Chairperson and members of the Implementation Group on NCHD Working Hours will be appointed by the Minister for Health and Children for a period to be determined by the Minister. The Group will report to the Steering Group.
  2. The Group will prepare a detailed implementation strategy for an agreed programme to reduce NCHD working hours in compliance with the EU Working Time Directive (48-hour working week by 2010, with interim targets of 58 hours by 2004 and 56 hours by 2007). The implementation strategy should take account of the Report of the National Joint Steering Group on the Working Hours of Non-Consultant Hospital Doctors and the Report of the Forum on Medical Manpower.
  3. In this regard the Group will:
    1. submit its implementation programme to the Steering Group for approval and for submission in turn to the Minister for Health and Children;
    2. oversee the establishment and operation of, and provide information, guidance and support to, local Working Groups within each public hospital: these Working Groups will report directly to the NCHD Hours Group and will progress measures agreed by the Task Force for the reduction of NCHD hours at local level;
    3. agree a hospital action plan with each local hospital Working Group to ensure, initially, the introduction of a range of immediate measures to reduce NCHD hours: in developing the plan the Working Group should have regard to the implications of the recommendations contained in the Report of the Forum on Medical Manpower;
    4. monitor and evaluate progress on measures to reduce NCHD hours at both local and national level;
    5. In association with the local hospital Working Groups, develop and implement a communications policy at national and local level to ensure that there is a full understanding of and compliance with the measures to reduce NCHD hours: this policy should address the needs within the hospital, within the professional bodies and representative groups and within the general public.
    6. The Group will liaise with and provide appropriate input to the Steering Group and the other Project Group(s) on relevant matters, including the future role of doctors in training and the detailed resource implications and costing study to be carried out by the Steering Group.
    7. The Group will undertake any other tasks that may be agreed from time to time between the Steering Group and the Minister. The Group will also review its structures and terms of reference as it deems necessary and propose appropriate amendments to the Steering Group.

3. Medical Education and Training Advisory Group

“Addressing the present and future medical education and training needs of all hospital doctors.”

  1. The Chairperson and members of the Medical Education and Training Advisory Group will be appointed by the Minister for Health and Children for a period to be determined by the Minister. The Group will report to the Steering Group.
  2. The Group, in consultation with all of the key stakeholders, will quantify the education, training and relevant structural requirements arising from the recommendations of the Report of the Joint Steering Group on the Working Hours of Non Consultant Hospital Doctors and the Report of the Medical Manpower Forum, and will formulate an appropriate implementation plan.
  3. The Group will liaise with and provide appropriate input to the Steering Group and the other Project Group(s) on relevant matters.
  4. The Group will undertake any other tasks that may be agreed from time to time between the Steering Group and the Minister. The Group will also review its structures and terms of reference as it deems necessary and propose appropriate amendments to the Steering Group.