3,000 medics out of work as HSE recruits from abroad

Tue, Apr 26, 2011, 01:00

ALMOST 3,000 health professionals across a variety of disciplines are currently out of work, according to official figures.

They form part of a larger group of more than 14,500 workers in health and related industries who are on the live register, according to the Minister for Social Protection, Joan Burton.

Ms Burton was responding to Sinn Féin social protection spokesman Aengus Ó Snodaigh, who asked in the Dáil last week how many doctors were currently on the live register.

Ms Burton said this information wasn’t readily available in her department but provided a more general breakdown of unemployment within the health sector.

This shows that 5,299 people in childcare and related occupations are on the live register, and 3,473 in health and related occupations. Some 2,218 health associate professionals are also unemployed, as are 2,775 health professionals and 772 home helps.

Mr Ó Snodaigh said his query was prompted by a constituent’s concern that large numbers of doctors were being recruited in Pakistan to work in Ireland, when doctors already in Ireland were unemployed.

“If there are doctors unemployed, and you’d have to expect that as a result of the downturn, it would be madness to be recruiting people abroad to work here,” he said.

He said money would be better spent in training health professionals to return to the workforce after periods out of employment.

Last week, it emerged that up to 400 junior doctor posts could be vacant in July due to a shortage of applicants. The HSE is hoping to fill the gap through a recruitment campaign in India and Pakistan.

Candidates from abroad would have to be vetted by the Garda and registered by the Medical Council, which means they are unlikely to be available in time for the next rotation of staff on July 1st.

In other medical specialisations, such as dentistry, speech therapy and physiotherapy, unemployment rates are rising as State-funded services are cut.