Oireachtas Joint and Select Committees

Wednesday, 21 October 2020

Joint Oireachtas Committee on Health

Workforce Planning in Acute and Community Care Settings: Discussion

Ms Susan Clyne:

I will make the general comment that it is unethical for Ireland to be recruiting so many doctors from countries that need those doctors to look after their own populations. A better system is one where doctors move around countries to get enhanced training but then return to their home country to practise, in the majority of cases. The WHO and the WMA, therefore, will state that this is an unethical practice anyway and that we are depriving other healthcare systems of much-needed health professionals.

That group of doctors who come here, however, do not really want to stay here because they have not been able to access the training posts. While the recent legislation, therefore, is helpful in that it gives them some access, they are merely competing with a greater number of doctors now for the same number of training posts.

That move is not going to help with our medical manpower shortage in any way. It will not make a jot of difference or fill one additional post. Non-EEA and non-EU doctors have been treated very poorly. They mainly emigrate from Ireland quite quickly because they are treated badly. To see them as an answer to the consultant shortage would not be a correct interpretation of the situation.

Consider what we could have done since the Covid-19 pandemic, apart from all the normal planning based on previous reports. In July of this year, several specialist registrars, SpRs, had finished their training and were ready to take consultant posts. We asked the HSE to offer each and every one of them a temporary consultant contract. This was denied. We now have a situation where highly qualified and trained SpRs are working as registrars or are doing locum work. It is an absolute disgrace. We do not value any of our doctors, whether they are Irish-trained or non-EEA doctors. We are very appreciative of all the work these doctors have done to prop up our health services, but it is wholly wrong and completely unethical to allow such an over-reliance on non-EEA doctors.