Asian doctors lured by €2.4m package yet to practise
MANY of the 264 Indian and Pakistani doctors who were lured to Ireland with a €2.4m package have yet to start work.
The doctors are being fed and housed by the HSE at hospitals around the country but cannot take up the vacant junior doctor positions until they are cleared to practise in Ireland by the Irish Medical Council (IMC).
A spokesman for the HSE told the Sunday Independent that they cannot legally employ the doctors until they have been cleared.
The spokesman said: "We are legally precluded from employing doctors who are not registered.
"The HSE is paying for accommodation for the period prior to registration with the Medical Council. Meals are provided free in the relevant hospital canteen. Once registered, doctors will be put on payroll."
The IMC has confirmed that only 51 candidates had applied to sit the specific exams for the new supervised division of the register, which was created to facilitate non-EU doctors and fill empty junior doctor positions.
The IMC said that on average it takes about four weeks to register a non-EU doctor.
In almost 90 per cent of cases the time delay is caused by insufficient documentation. During this period the doctors work in the HSE designated-role of clinical observer.
The HSE's spokesman said the clinical observers were not practising medicine.
He said: "A clinical observer must be accompanied by a consultant at all times. They can only observe and cannot attempt to influence patient management.
"They cannot take histories or examine any patients. They cannot prescribe and they must wear appropriate identification at all times."
When the new recruits have been certified as fit to practise in Ireland, they can expect to earn between a basic annual salary of €39,000 for a first-year senior house officer, rising to €46,000 for fourth-year SHOs.