Saturday 24 February 2018

Foreign doctors often key players

Eilish O'Regan

Eilish O'Regan

ABOUT one in every two junior doctors employed in Irish hospitals is from abroad, despite the fact that hundreds of doctors graduate from the country's medical schools every year.

One of the problems is that about one in five of the posts for junior doctors is 'service grade', which means that medic is an employee rather than a trainee.

These are unattractive to doctors who want to be part of structured training programmes as they clock up credits in their journey over several years towards becoming a full consultant.

The HSE says it now plans to change most of these service jobs to training posts in the next two to three years.

This is just one of the efforts under way to try to reduce reliance on doctors from abroad and the recruitment difficulties which are faced by hospitals every six months as trainee medics rotate from one post to another.

However, it must also contend with the deep dissatisfaction with the gruelling working week still endured by many junior doctors. Working conditions, pay and training are all better abroad, they insist.

Many foreign doctors bring key skills to our hospitals, providing essential treatment and saving lives.

Two years ago, a recruitment campaign that enticed several hundred doctors here – mostly from Pakistan – was so poorly planned it led to many returning home. Hopefully, such an organisational mishap will not be repeated.

The reality is that many parts of a hospital's service would grind to a halt without overseas doctors and they will continue to be essential players in our health system for a long time to come.

Irish Independent

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