Many young doctors choosing to work abroad

Recruitment and retention 'challenging'
  • Deborah Condon

Over 2,800 doctors withdrew from the medical register between 2015 and 2017 and almost 1,000 of these were young doctors who said they planned to pursue medicine abroad, a new report by the Irish Medical Council (IMC) has revealed.

According to the Medical Workforce Intelligence Report 2016/2017, 2,830 doctors voluntarily withdrew from the medical register between 2015 and 2017, and of these, 1,846 provided reasons for this.

Of those who provided reasons, over 970 (53%) were under the age of 35 and said that they planned to pursue medicine in another jurisdiction.

Among those planning to leave Ireland, 37% said they were moving to the UK, while 19% said they were going to Australia.

The report noted that the main reasons given for doctors leaving the register were the expectation to carry out non-core tasks, a lack of respect by senior colleagues, a lack of flexible training options, an ability to learn more abroad, a lack of employer support, workplace understaffing and the hours expected to work in the context of the European Working Time Directive.

"Ireland's education and training of doctors is internationally recognised, however recruiting and retaining our pool of highly qualified Irish trained doctors is proving challenging.

"This is leading to an overreliance on overseas trained doctors, which is escalating as evidenced in this report. The cultural challenges within the Irish health system also need to be addressed in tandem with an increase of health practitioner supply. Otherwise, retention will remain a growing issue," commented IMC president, Dr Rita Doyle.

Responding to the report, the president of the Irish Medical Organisation (IMO), Dr Peadar Gilligan, said that the findings confirm that the recruitment and retention crisis is now causing real damage in the health service.

"Ireland is a cold house for consultants and will remain so as long as the Government persists with the inequitable policy of paying new consultants 30% less than colleagues hired before 2012 and doing the same job. That is why the Government can't fill 500 empty posts across the country and that is directly leading to longer waiting times for patients," he said.

Meanwhile, the Irish Hospital Consultants Association (IHCA) said that the Government's two-tier pay policy ‘is driving our much needed specialists abroad and is resulting in one in five permanent consultant posts being unfilled'.

"This is destroying the basic fabric of our acute hospital and mental health services to the detriment of patients. It is one of the main reasons why over 540,000 people are awaiting an outpatient appointment with a hospital consultant and a further 70,000 patients are awaiting inpatient and day case surgical appointments," commented IHCA president, Dr Donal O'Hanlon.


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