Three-quarters of junior doctors plan to leave Irish healthcare system
The medical “brain drain” is set to gather pace with three out of four junior doctors planning to leave the Irish healthcare system in the near future, according to new research.
Most say they will leave because of factors such as budget cuts in the Health Service Executive, understaffing and high workloads, a lack of consultant posts and long hours, the research found. Those interviewed said they were looking for further training opportunities, a better lifestyle and good working conditions.
“The HSE and local postgraduate training bodies need to ensure that they address these issues by providing a sufficient number of higher training opportunities, adequate staffing and a better work environment in hospitals,” said the author of the study, Dr Umashankar Ambigananthan. He said they need to move quickly as the study shows there were a significant number of doctors willing to stay, if changes occurred.
More than 80 per cent of the 104 doctors surveyed said they were willing to stay if the system improved.
Traditionally, up to half of all medical students leave Ireland in search of training opportunities abroad, but this exodus has increased as a result of instability in the health service, pay cuts for future consultants and a failure to reduce junior doctors’ working hours to EU-recommended norms.
Dr Ambigananthan said many of the doctors he interviewed for a dissertation at the National College of Ireland attach a greater priority to work-life balance and job security than their predecessors.
Over one-third of the doctors surveyed said they worked 60 hours a week or more, and 15 per cent reported working weeks of 80 hours or more.