GENERAL Practitioners who cover Lifford and Carndonagh Community Hospitals have resigned from their hospital jobs effective from this morning (Monday).
The HSE has moved to assure patients and their families stating: “Medical cover remains in place within the hospitals and there are no changes to patient services. The resignation is purely a temporary, technical issue pertaining to a number of doctors.”
Lifford Community Hospital will have medical cover from Dr Colette McGrory and Dr Ken Devlin and the four other doctors who share cover for Carndonagh Community Hospital are willing to work on a locum basis.
The GPs involved in the hospital cover have taken the drastic action of resigning from the hospitals in order to force the HSE to address inequalities in the doctors’ contracts for their hospital work.
Dr Martin Coyne and his colleagues in the Lifford and Castlefin Primary Care Centres and the five Carndonagh GPs are on different contracts to Dr McGrory. They have resigned because they will only be entitled to a HSE pension in the region of €4,500 and precluded from getting the state pension of €12,000.
Dr Coyne told the Donegal News yesterday (Thursday) that this anomaly which leaves them a lot worse off on retirement was an “unintended consequence” of a change to their contracts back in 1997.Dr McGrory’s contract allows her to get both pensions.
“It is a difference in the type of stamp, not the value of the stamp, put on for us and her. We are all doing exactly the same job. We have been on to the HSE for the last two years to get this sorted out and have had to resort to resigning from these contracts to get it done.
“We were offered new contracts to solve the problem but they were worse. We would be quite happy on our old contracts once the pension stamp issue is addressed.
Work as locums
Dr Ken Devlin assured the public there would be no question of leaving the hospital without medical cover.
“I have written to Kieran Woods Acting General Manager of Primary Care in Donegal offering on behalf of us all to work as locums at the hospital.
“We had to take action to get the contracts changed as the years are running out for some and retirement is close. We just want to be treated as ordinary workers are,” Dr Devlin concluded.