Highest number of overseas doctors may be in Ireland

Tue, Feb 7, 2012, 00:00

IRELAND IS likely to have the highest number of doctors and nurses in the developed world trained overseas, a new study has suggested.

In 2008, the last year for which comparable figures are available, Ireland was second in the OECD to New Zealand in relation to the number of doctors trained overseas.

It is likely to have moved into first place following a series of recruitment drives since then, the study carried out by the Royal College of Physicians and Trinity College Dublin has found.

In 2010, the last year for which figures are available, more than a third (33.4 per cent) of all registered doctors in Ireland were non-Irish medical graduates.

In 2000 the equivalent figure was 13.4 per cent.

In 2011, almost 300 Indian and Pakistani doctors were recruited by the HSE.

The number of non-EU trained doctors rose from 972 in 2000 to 4,740 in 2010, representing a quarter of all registered doctors in Ireland.

The figures also show that the number of nurses recruited overseas between 2000 and 2010 at 14,546 was similar to the number of Irish trained nurses (17,264) joining the health services.

Since the recession started, 4,202 non-EU migrant nurses have sought to leave the Irish health service.

The figures will pose questions about the effectiveness of recruitment policies within the health service with thousands of Irish-trained nurses and doctors forced to go overseas to continue their training.

The report’s chief author, Prof Ruairí Brugha of the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland (RCSI), said Ireland was too dependent on foreign trained doctors and nurses especially those from middle and low income countries and the figures showed that Ireland did not do “workforce planning well”.

He said Ireland now had to be aware of a new global code of practice on the international recruitment of health personnel which discourages recruiting from countries which are facing critical shortages of health personnel.

Prof Brugha described the emigration of Irish nurses and doctors after training as a “huge waste of an expensive and precious resource” and he acknowledged it did not make sense to people when so many health personnel were being recruited overseas.

Prof Brugha added that the Irish health service was now recruiting Irish doctors in sufficient numbers, but many were leaving Ireland because of the lack of permanent positions as consultants or general practitioners.