Wednesday 21 February 2018

'Exodus of our doctors is not just about pay or salary gap'

Dr John Duddy plans to emigrate like '80pc of graduates' Picture: Tony Gavin
Dr John Duddy plans to emigrate like '80pc of graduates' Picture: Tony Gavin
Eilish O'Regan

Eilish O'Regan

Cork-based trainee neurosurgeon John Duddy insists better pay is only part of the solution to keeping homegrown doctors working in Irish hospitals.

The current salary gap, which has seen new recruits paid less since 2012, must be tackled at the upcoming pay talks, he said.

"It's difficult for a neurosurgeon to take up a post here if they cannot do their job properly and are without an operating list and resources. They need to be given the tools to do their work as well," he said.

Commenting on yesterday's report from the Public Sector Pay Commission, Dr Duddy said he welcomed the fact it acknowledged the problem of retention and recruitment of doctors.

The report gave a ray of hope that a special case could be made for health workers, who are proving difficult to attract.

It noted that "previous flexibility that existed around pay scales in specialist and scarce skills areas may need to be revisited".

Dr Duddy, who recently ended his term as president of the Irish Medical Organisation, said he will be emigrating to gain more experience in his speciality.

"I will have to go abroad for further specialist training. There is a limited number of posts for neurosurgeons anyway.

"With the lower new entrant payscales it would be less attractive to become a consultant working in Cork on a one-in-three or one-in-four rota. That would be very busy and you are getting paid a third less than your colleagues," he said.

He said patients are suffering and are on long surgical waiting lists because of a lack of surgeons in areas like orthopaedics.

Dr Ann Hogan, who has succeeded him as president, stressed the Government must move forward quickly on the pay agenda.

"At any given time there are almost 400 consultant vacancies in our health services and over 80pc of our graduates intend to emigrate," she said.

Irish Independent

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