The Belfast Trust is planning to advertise for a specialist doctor to care for children with serious bowel conditions, the Belfast Telegraph can reveal.
In addition to advertising for a consultant paediatric gastroenterologist to replace Dr David Mitchell who left the Royal Victoria Hospital last month, the trust also intends to employ a specialty paediatric gastroenterologist.
However, there are concerns as to how quickly the trust will fill the consultant post — with the British Society of Paediatric Gastroenterology Hepatology and Nutrition warning there are not enough consultant paediatric gastroenterologists in the UK to meet demand.
It is the latest twist in a situation which has seen parents and experts raising concerns over the service being provided following the departure of Dr Mitchell. The Belfast Trust has come under fire for its failure to find a replacement for him. He handed in his resignation in January but the trust did not advertise the position until last week.
And it had also faced criticism for only employing one specialist doctor to deal with hundreds of sick children, claiming this was adequate.
Meanwhile, the parents of a former patient of Dr Mitchell are looking into the possibility of taking their baby daughter to Scotland to be treated for her rare bowel condition if the staffing issues at the Royal are not resolved quickly.
Jacci Brolly, who described the situation as a “shambles”, said she is so worried about Savannah following the departure of Dr Mitchell she is exploring alternatives, including taking her daughter to Edinburgh Children’s Hospital where the consultant paediatric gastroenterologist now works.