herald

Thursday 17 January 2019

Why our doctors are fleeing Ireland

WE'RE NOW just 20 days from an A&E meltdown, and the Government is doing nothing to stop it.

Hundreds of junior doctor positions have yet to be filled, and it is now expected that one-in-three posts in busy A&E wards will be vacant.

Increased numbers of paycuts, little career prospects and longer working hours are all contributing to the great A&E brain drain that will soon cripple our wards.

The Government spends millions of euro each year on the highest level of education of medical students in the training colleges.

But these Irish-trained doctors have been steadily emigrating once they are fully qualified.

The reasons are many -- including a lack of career prospects in the under-funded healthcare system which is in place here.

Hospitals in Australia, America and England provide better opportunities for our working professionals.

Added to that, non-EU doctors have been discouraged from coming to Ireland to register to work here.

In 2009, their visas were restricted so they would have to be renewed every six months. However, this has since been changed to every two years.

President of the Irish Medical Organisation Dr Ronan Boland says that Ireland finds itself in the middle of a wave of doctor emigration not seen since the 1980s.

"Then, as now, Irish medicine and health care did not operate in a vacuum," Dr Boland said at a recent event for new graduates.

"Highly educated, trained and motivated professionals will do what is required to further their careers and improve their skills and expertise.

"Many of you will leave Ireland, at least in the short term, in pursuit of opportunities."

Dr Boland expressed his concern that the Government was not doing enough to ensure new graduates are given sufficient opportunity to forge a career in their chosen discipline in Ireland over the next five to 10 years.

"Ireland still has one of the fastest-growing populations in Europe. It is an ageing population. People are living longer, requiring more and more treatment for more and more co-morbidities in their later lives," he said.

And Dr Boland added that this pattern would not change and that the new graduates' skills would be "needed here more than ever before".

"I hope (they) can stay and help make things better."

posts could remain unfilled by July, but more recent estimates presented to Minister for Health James Reilly suggest that figure could be 180.

clairemurphy@herald.ie

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