Trainee doctors concerned for their safety at St James’s Hospital site

Secure staff parking cited as issue at Dublin 8 facility amid woes over personnel shortage

Doctors training at St James’s Hospital in Dublin have raised concerns for personal safety when accessing and leaving the site, particularly at night, according to a Medical Council report. Photograph: Alan Betson

Doctors training at St James's Hospital in Dublin raised concerns for their personal safety when accessing and leaving the site, particularly at night, according to a Medical Council report.

“Trainees were particularly concerned at the lack of secure staff parking and the likely exacerbation of the problem with the increasing provision of clinical services onsite,” the inspection report found.

While the hospital, located in Dublin 8, provides an onsite security escort service, medical trainees said this was not always readily accessible to them.

Assessors from the Medical Council visited the access-controlled accommodation provided for on-call staff and said they were satisfied it was both safe and secure.


Medical interns at St James’s also expressed concerns over patient safety due to low staffing levels during on-call hours, and said an additional intern and phlebotomists could alleviate these pressures.

On-call period

The council’s inspectors recommended that the hospital increase staffing levels during the on-call period in the interest of patient safety.

The report was one of 10 published by the Medical Council arising from its inspection of clinical training sites in the Dublin Midlands Hospital Group (DMHG) and the Children’s Hospital Group.

DMHG hospitals were found to be 51 per cent partially compliant with standards for specialist training, and 48 per cent partially compliant for intern training.

At the children’s hospitals, there was 48 per cent partial compliance for specialist training and 14 per cent partial compliance for intern training.

Hours worked

Assessors as well as interns, trainees and trainers working at the sites voiced concerns about staffing levels impinging on protected training time.

Concerns also arose in some areas over the number of hours worked above the European working time directive and again staffing shortages were cited as the reason behind this.

At Tallaght University Hospital, doctors complained of a “disproportionate” on-call ratio, low staffing and supervision levels and “feeling stretched” in managing patient cases. They also described not having time to take appropriate rest breaks.

The report calls for a review of current staffing levels at the hospital to ensure the on-call ratio reflects the volume of on-call activity. It also says trainees should be appropriately supervised and should be able to avail of rest breaks.

Paul Cullen

Paul Cullen

Paul Cullen is a former heath editor of The Irish Times.