Over­seas medics in the health sys­tem

The Irish Times - - Comment & Letters -

Sir, – Mr Jus­tice Peter Kelly’s com­ments re­cently in the High Court on our “de­fec­tive” re­cruit­ment pro­cesses (“Pa­tients ‘at risk’ from doc­tor re­cruit­ment”, News, Novem­ber 8th) cor­rectly high­light sev­eral is­sues of con­cern to the Ir­ish health ser­vice.

Among th­ese are our dif­fi­cul­ties in per­suad­ing home-grown med­i­cal grad­u­ates to stay to work here in Ire­land, and the re­lated risks we run in plug­ging gaps in the sys­tem with prac­ti­tion­ers trained else­where who oc­ca­sion­ally are not up to scratch, as was found by the Med­i­cal Coun­cil in­quiry in ques­tion.

How­ever, we rarely dis­cuss our fail­ings in how we treat doc­tors from over­seas once they ar­rive here. Many doc­tors who come here to work try and fail to en­rol on Ir­ish spe­cial­ist train­ing schemes – where their non-Ir­ish med­i­cal de­grees count against them – and so they do not re­ceive the same on­go­ing train­ing and re­search op­por­tu­ni­ties as their trainee coun­ter­parts. Fre­quently, they are em­ployed to fill va­can­cies in our non-uni­ver­sity hospi­tals out­side the ma­jor cities, where the em­pha­sis on teach­ing and ed­u­ca­tion is by def­i­ni­tion not as great as in ter­tiary teach­ing hospi­tals.

Fi­nally, op­por­tu­ni­ties for ca­reer pro­gres­sion and even­tual ap­point­ment to con­sul­tant posts may elude even those doc­tors who prove them­selves, of­ten over many years of ser­vice, to be ex­cel­lent clin­i­cians. They even­tu­ally may de­cide to move else­where.

From per­sonal ex­pe­ri­ence, many of our non-Ir­ish doc­tors un­der­take their du­ties to a su­perb stan­dard, of­ten thou­sands of miles away from home and fam­ily. As well as pro­tect­ing pa­tients with im­proved safe­guards to fil­ter out can­di­dates who are un­qual­i­fied, we also need a bet­ter way of iden­ti­fy­ing, re­ward­ing and em­pow­er­ing those doc­tors who have come to Ire­land and dis­tin­guished them­selves as ex­cel­lent. – Yours, etc,

DOMH­NALL McGLACKEN-BYRNE, Tal­laght Uni­ver­sity Hos­pi­tal, Dublin 24.

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