Almost 3,000 doctors with rights to practise in Ireland withdrew from the medical register between 2015 and 2017, according to new figures from the Medical Council.
The regulatory body for the medical profession in Ireland revealed on Thursday that departing doctors pointed to workplace understaffing and a lack of employer support as reasons for leaving.
They also cited working hours that go against the European Working Time Directive; a lack of respect by senior colleagues; a lack of training options; and an expectation to carry out non-core tasks.
Of the 2,830 voluntary withdrawals recorded 1,846 practitioners (65.2%) completed the voluntary withdrawals form which outlines doctors’ reasons for voluntarily withdrawing.
Fifty three percent of this group were aged 35 and under, with the majority male, on the General Division and planning to pursue medicine in another jurisdiction.
Almost 40% of doctors leaving the register stated they were moving to the UK to practise medicine, 19% to Australia and 27% to another jurisdiction.
One quarter left the Specialist Division while 66% left General Division of the register.
Another 15% of those choosing to leave the register cited limited career progression; 25% family/personal reasons for withdrawal and 34% unspecified other reasons for doing so.
37% The withdrawals meant there was just one GP per 1,000 patients in Cork county in 2017.
“Ireland’s education and training of doctors is internationally recognised,” said Dr Rita Doyle, president of the Medical Council.
“However, recruiting and retaining our pool of highly qualified Irish trained doctors is proving challenging.
“This is leading to an overreliance on overseas trained doctors, which is escalating as evidenced in this report,” she added.
In 2016, there were 2,714 doctors who enrolled on the Medical Council Register for the first time.
Countries including Egypt, Sudan, Pakistan and Romania and the United Kingdom contributed more new entrants combined to the Irish register of medical practitioners than Ireland did.
“The cultural challenges within the Irish health system, which are highlighted in the report, also need to be addressed in tandem with an increase of health practitioner supply,” said Dr Doyle.
“Otherwise, retention will remain a growing issue,” she warned.