A drive to recruit foreign doctors has resulted in the Western Trust appointing 31 extra staff to the health authority, twenty of whom were already in post at the start of this month, Chief Executive Elaine Way has revealed.
The Trust boss said the successful recruitment drive is particularly welcome after a nine per cent spike in demand for unscheduled care at Altnagelvin last year.
Last December the Sentinel reported foreign doctors were being especially recruited to help reduce the rising cost of expensive locums, which rose to £12.9m last year, and has been crippling the health authority’s attempts to break even.
Briefing the Stormont Health Committee before it rose for the summer recess last month, Ms Way, once again addressed the peculiar difficulty the Trust has in attracting staff to one of the most remote health authorities in the UK.
“In the Western Trust, and this will be no surprise to the MLAs locally because they have heard me brief them on this regularly, we have particular challenges with regard to the recruitment and retention of medical staff - largely because of our peripheral geography,” she said.
“We have developed a strategic plan to try and address this, and it includes an ambitious programme of overseas recruitment. I am delighted to say that we have successfully appointed 31 additional doctors to the trust, 20 of whom are already in post as I speak.”