Worldwide hunt to find consultants for Mater Hospital
Senior doctors are being sought from Australia and across Europe to work in a Belfast emergency department as part of plans to solve the staffing crisis.
The move was confirmed as medical bosses spoke of how staff shortages led to serious safety fears being raised by two senior consultants, who threatened to quit the A&E unit at the Mater Hospital.
Overnight ambulance diversions and the redirection of children from the Mater's emergency department are set to continue,
In a briefing to the media yesterday, Dr John Maxwell, clinical director of emergency medicine in Belfast, said action had to be taken.
"When a senior doctor says to you 'I have concerns', you can't ignore that. We know we are 'X' amount of consultants down across the trust in terms of emergency medicine," he said.
"We have gone out to global advert so there are doctors from anywhere."
He added the Mater was "actively pursuing" recruits from Australia, Germany and Denmark.
Medical director of the Belfast Trust Dr Cathy Jack said the A&E changes at the Mater were temporary and kept under review.
However, the changes have sparked fears over the future of the hospital and staff and unions held a protest outside the hospital yesterday.