The Western Trust has said it hopes to be in a position to treat patients with gynaecological emergencies at the Erne and Tyrone County Hospitals within two weeks.
The British Medical Association (BMA) in Northern Ireland has blamed poor work- force planning after some obstetric and gynaecological services were temporarily suspended at the two Western Trust hospitals due to a shortage of junior doctors.
Since Tuesday, all routine and emergency gynaecology patients, in-patients and out-patients have been sent to Altnagelvin Hospital in London- derry — 40 miles away.
The only exceptions are women with life threatening bleeding, patients with |appointments at the nurse-led Early Pregnancy Clinic, colposcopy clinics and a limited number of selected day case operations carried out by senior gynaecology medical staff.
The Western Trust last night said it hopes to be in a position to treat patients with gynaelogical emergencies at the Erne and Tyrone County Hospitals by September 14.
Interviews are also expected to take place in the coming weeks to fill the vacant posts to allow the hospital to reinstate all services.
The situation arose after the Western Trust requested its normal allocation of six junior doctors from the Northern Ireland Medical and Dental Training Agency (NIMDTA), but only one commenced employment. The Trust revealed it only became aware of the shortage on |August 3, two days before the posts were to be filled.
Dr Michael Parker, clinical director of obstetrics and gynaecology, explained that two candidates declined posts for family reasons, two had outstanding visa issues and one doctor was promoted and took a post in England. Only one junior doctor began work on August 5. He said steps are being taken but added it was not known when full services will resume.
NIMDTA has been asked to comment on the situation but has failed to do so.
Dr David Farren, deputy chairman of the BMA’s Junior Doctor Committee in Northern Ireland, said: “It is disappointing procedures have been suspended and junior doctors must not be blamed for poor workforce planning which led to this situation”.