Fianna Fáil Health Spokesperson Stephen Donnelly has called on the Health Minister immediately investigate claims by Non-Consultant Hospital Doctors that their timesheets are being falsified by their hospitals. Deputy Donnelly also wants to know if the Minister was already aware of these claims.

“I have heard directly from a number of Junior Doctors who have said that their timesheets are being falsified by their hospitals. They are particularly frustrated with the fact that some hours are being recorded as training hours, when the training time was not in fact given to them. Rather, they have said, these so-called training hours are hours they simply work as part of their shifts”, Deputy Donnelly explained.

“This is an incredibly serious charge, and if true, constitutes a substantive breach of trust between the hospitals and these doctors. It would constitute a similar breach of trust with the public, who must know that all doctors are receiving the necessary clinical training.

“In the context of recent revelations that there are more than 600 consultants working in our hospitals who are not on the specialist register, and this week’s scandal involving the CervicalCheck programme, these latest developments mark a very worrying trend in our health service.

“Regarding the falsification of timesheets, the HSE knows about these allegations at a senior level. On the basis that I was made aware of the allegations within a few weeks of becoming Health Spokesperson, I would be amazed, and worried, if the government isn’t also aware of them.

“I have written to the Health Minister requesting an immediate investigation into these claims, and to report back to the Oireachtas as a matter of urgency. I have also asked him to clarify whether he or any of his predecessors were made aware of these very serious issues.

“The government needs to provide answers to several important questions. How widespread is the alleged practice? What level of training are NCHDs being deprived of? Who authorised the falsification of timesheets? How long has the government known that this is happening? What steps have been taken to date to irradiate this behaviour? Has anyone been held to account? Are other healthcare professionals also having their timesheets falsified? What other egregious work practices are our doctors and nurses being exposed to?

“There is a growing fear across the country that the HSE is broken, and it is clear that health system is, in places, creaking at the seams. The public, and our healthcare professionals, are suffering the effects of this. The very serious issues that have emerged over the past few weeks and months must be addressed comprehensively. If they are not, we could see the beginning of an unprecedented situation in Ireland where the public believe to lose faith in the clinical effectiveness of our health service.  This would be a new and extremely serious departure in Ireland”.