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President Newsletter 01

Christmas Greetings and plans for 2009

Colleagues & Friends,

Firstly best wishes for the Christmas season to all of you and a happy and prosperous New Year 2009 to you and yours.

2009 will be an important year for EM in Ireland. I am hopeful that some progress will finally be made on the overcrowding issue which bedevils us. The adoption of the 6hr total time target in the HSE’s Service Plan 2009 is a positive step. This will probably make the introduction of the Full Capacity Protocol (FCP) inevitable. There has been some progress in some areas on this issue and hopefully this will be the thin edge of the FCP wedge. We will keep the pressure on about the accuracy of HSE figures & the reality that the problem is every bit as bad as ever.

2009 will also see the launch of a new and improved IAEM website (Q1) and the further enhancement of the IAEM October Annual Scientific Meeting. We intend to lengthen the academic element but very much recognise the importance of maintaining the very sociable nature of the event. The great success of the joint IAEM/CEM meeting in Trinity College in September was a good advert for Irish EM at a variety of levels. October’s meeting will be held in the Midlands, probably in Athlone.

We have publicly supported the need for Reconfiguration of Emergency Services but provided this is done transparently and for the clear good of patient care. We have made it very clear that if the intention is money saving, this will fail. The international evidence supports this contention and Liam Woods HSE Director of Finance has publically conceded this on RTE. We will be very vigilant about the upcoming Service reviews in Cork & Dublin and we will need the active engagement and assistance of all members in these areas so the time-honoured traditional weapon of divide & conquer is not used against us. The publication of reviews done elsewhere and the moves to implement the plans in the North East & Mid West may also present challenges, particularly if the HSE deviate from agreed good practice. Given also that we are regularly criticised by the likes of John O’Brien (Winter Initiative) for a supposed unwillingness to consider streamlining of processes in EDs, we have embarked on an exercise to develop a document on Processes in EDs. JOBWI may be both ignorant of EM and indeed arguably malicious but we need to address our perceived vulnerability.

NIMIS including PACS is coming in 2009 and colleagues need to be vigilant to ensure their ED gets the best possible provision. In a situation of tight resources, we need to get in before other services and ensure that EDs have optimal facilities. Gerry Lane’s work and his advice previously communicated need to be used to ensure our needs are met.

We are currently finalising a position paper on Access to Out-of-Hours Social Services which we will publish early in the New Year. We have also finalised a document on the ED assessment of women with IHD in conjunction with the Women’s Health Council. We also intend to develop model job plans for Consultants in EM whether on the Buckley or 2008 Contract so that HSE centrally do not target EM for (further) unfair treatment.

Other positive developments have been the creation of the CEM and the development of a semi-autonomous National Board for Ireland to our suggested model. Pat Plunkett has taken on the position of Chair of the Irish National Board and elections for other key roles will take place in the early course. Our involvement with CEM has allowed us to have a hitherto unheard of input into ‘The Way Ahead 2008-12’ document. This document has sections dealing with RoI (which I drafted) in contrast to previous UK-specific documents. The incoming President of CEM is writing to the CMO of DoHC (and probably Prof Drumm) with copies of the document and requesting a meeting at which we will be represented.

The future of the specialty is in the hands of the younger generation i.e. our trainees. 2009 will see a further expansion of number of SpRs and the holding of the first diet of the MCEM in Dublin in January. Ronan O’Sullivan has taken over the onerous role of Programme Director and we wish him well in this role. As an Association we would like to see trainees and other non-Consultant colleagues playing an increasing role in our organisation. Anna Moore’s involvement in the WHC document and Una Kennedy’s in the Social Services document is an indication of progress and is to be commended. There is plenty of work that needs to be done!

I also wish to take the opportunity to thank the Officers & the Executive (and the outgoing members) for their assistance and work over the past 12 months. There is a huge body of work that needs to be done and we very much need the active assistance of all colleagues to make it a success.

Your specialty needs you. If we come calling for your assistance, please assist us.

Thanks and have a good Christmas.


Fergal Hickey


President, Irish Association for Emergency Medicine

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