Irish medics abroad won't return to poor working conditions in Ireland, doctor warns

Dr Suzanne Crowe said many Irish doctors working overseas find that coming back to Ireland is not an attractive option
Irish medics abroad won't return to poor working conditions in Ireland, doctor warns

Olivia Kelleher

Irish doctors are no longer returning to work in Ireland because pay and conditions are too favourable abroad, the president of the Medical Council has warned.

Dr Suzanne Crowe said many Irish doctors find that working conditions in other countries are simply too good and that coming back to Ireland is not an attractive option.

“What has changed over the last 10 years really is that doctors are choosing the better work-life balance and pay and conditions that are available in other countries," she told Newstalk radio.

"So [Irish doctors] are going away later in their training, often having done one or two degrees and years of training in Ireland with Irish patients, and then going abroad and settling elsewhere in the longer-term."

Dr Crowe indicated that many junior doctors find working in Irish hospitals "demoralising."

"It’s much more about being paid on time, being paid at the correct schedule and being paid for all the hours that you work.

"Not having to work 60,70, 80 hours every week. Being able to finish your shift at the end of your shift and going home and spending time with your family.

"And for your services not to be so overrun with loads of patients and trying to access other supports that you feel like you’re not doing your job properly and you’re doing a disservice to your patients. All of those factors are really demoralising."

She said conditions are so chaotic at certain hospitals that she was recently contacted by a doctor who had to get a loan from her parents to pay for childcare.

"The last hospital she’s just moved from has underpaid her and the new hospital has put her on emergency tax."

"So it’s no surprise that when she goes to another country and she sees that she’ll be treated in a very different fashion that she would actually make a decision to settle there in the longer-term."

Migrant nurses

Earlier this week, Migrant Nurses Ireland (MNI), which represents nurses from overseas, said "systemic racism" was putting off medical professionals from working in Ireland.

Some 25 per cent of all newly registered nurses in Ireland originate from outside the country.

However, Vinu Kaippilly, a co-ordinator of MNI, said that for many of them, life in Ireland is not what they had expected it to be.

The fact that Ireland has only 20-25 years of migration means that nurses from overseas report a variety of experiences here, he said.

"So those nurses who came here 10 years back had a different experience because then it was a very small number and they’ve been kind of accepted and integrated into the community very easily and well," he told Newstalk radio.

"But the scenario has changed. As I mentioned before, the number of nurses coming to Ireland is huge at the moment. The change in that demography changed actually the approach of the Irish people, I’d say.

"Even at work there’s a bit of systemic racism - that’s what we’re hearing. We’re hearing from all different institutions – even the HSE or a private [institution].

"There’s a bit of system racism happening and that’s affecting the daily life of the Irish nurses."

MNI has requested that an immediate review is carried out of the adaptation programme and aptitude test for nurses which its warns "are not conducted in a migrant friendly way in many instances currently."

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