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Thursday 23 March 2017

Overseas doctors get €800 towards rent costs

Eilish O'Regan Health Correspondent

MORE hidden costs have emerged in the Health Service Executive's controversial campaign to recruit foreign doctors to work in Ireland.

The taxpayer has already been footing the bill for the salaries of up to €2,500 a month for scores of the doctors recruited from India and Pakistan -- even though many have yet to be cleared to work here.

And it has now emerged that the HSE is also paying each doctor €800 towards their accommodation costs after they take up hospital duty.

The Irish Independent has learned that 239 of the doctors have received these accommodation-support payments totalling €84,800. The doctors from India and Pakistan, were cleared to work at the end of the summer and have taken up posts around the country.

They are getting either an upfront payment of €800 towards their accommodation or €100 per week, spread over eight weeks.

This enables the doctors to put a deposit on a rented apartment or house in advance of getting their first salary cheque.

Another 95 of the recruits, who are in Ireland and are still waiting for clearance, are getting a salary of €2,521 -- adding up to a total of €240,000 every four weeks -- even though they cannot work.

Allowances

At the same time, the HSE is paying locum hospital doctors up to €800 a day to cover for some of these foreign recruits while they await their clearance, as revealed in this newspaper earlier this week.

The cost of the recruitment campaign has mounted because the doctors were invited to come to Ireland weeks in advance of screening exams held by the Medical Council.

The full extent of the bill is still unclear because the HSE also had to provide some of the doctors with funds during the summer after they came to Ireland and were waiting to take the screening exams.

A spokeswoman for the HSE confirmed yesterday that food and accommodation were provided to the doctors during the summer, while they were waiting for registration.

She added that the total cost of the accommodation allowance paid to the 239 doctors so far was €84,800.

This is approximately 70pc of the annual cost of hiring a junior doctor from an agency.

Large numbers of the newly recruited doctors are being assigned to hospitals in the north east, particularly Navan hospital which is heavily reliant on agency staff.

Irish Independent

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