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'Long hours and bullying forcing docs to emigrate'

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One doctor who worked 90 hours a week said they were treated like robots (stock photo)

One doctor who worked 90 hours a week said they were treated like robots (stock photo)

One doctor who worked 90 hours a week said they were treated like robots (stock photo)

Urgent action is needed to end bullying and excessive working hours suffered by Irish doctors while hundreds of consultant posts are unfilled, a new report has warned.

The report from the Medical Council, the regulatory body for medical professionals in Ireland, found more than half of doctors said they were working more than 40 hours a week.

One doctor who worked 90 hours a week said they were treated like robots.

More than 1,100 doctors left the medical register in 2019, many blaming lack of support, excessive hours and resourcing issues.

The report showed that 23,558 doctors are now on the medical register in Ireland and 84.6pc are active.

It highlighted the strong reliance on junior doctors from abroad to support the Irish health service and the ongoing level of attrition resulting from lack of access to training, poor working conditions and natural retirement.

In 2019, there were 1,135 doctors who left the register, with the majority planning on working in another country.

16.2pc of those who chose to leave the register cited limited career progression in 2019, compared to 14.8pc this year.

At 26.6pc, more than a fifth cited family/personal reasons for withdrawal in 2019, compared to 25.1pc this year.

Some doctors said they were not returning to practice in Ireland due to poor working conditions in comparison to the country in which they are currently practising, and that experienced doctors who qualified outside of the EU could not access formal training programmes.

These challenges impact directly on patient and professional safety, the report warned.

"Poor working conditions - hours, workload, support pay," commented one doctor in the report.

Burnout

"Poor employer support, poor options for progression, poor pay, poor conditions," said another departing doctor.

"Provision of safe, quality patient care is challenged, as doctors report; working in poorly resourced services, working in excess of the European Working Time Directive hours, poor pay and burnout, said Jantze Cotter of the Medical Council.

"This results in ongoing attrition of Ireland's highly trained and experienced medical workforce.

"The patterns highlighted in previous reports are repeating themselves in 2019 and 2020.

"Only a commitment of collective, coordinated and planned action across stakeholders will produce solutions."


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