Irish doctors abroad ‘not returning as pay and conditions better overseas’

Doctors are choosing the better work-life balance in other countries, the Medical Council says

The Medical Council has warned that Irish doctors are no longer returning to work in Ireland because pay and conditions are too favourable abroad.

Council president Dr Suzanne Crowe said that in previous generations Irish doctors would work abroad for a few years and then move home.

However, she said, they are now finding that conditions are simply too good abroad and that coming back is not an attractive option.

She also noted the “demoralising” effect of doctors not being paid on time.


The Health Service Executive recently apologised for payroll issues that have led to delays in paying many young doctors in training.

The Irish Medical Organisation (IMO) said non-consultant hospital doctors around the country were encountering problems getting paid, or getting paid the correct amount, after they relocated to new hospitals as part of their training.

The failure by hospitals to pay these hospital doctors correctly is “exacerbating” their ongoing industrial relations dispute, the IMO warned.

Speaking on told Newstalk Breakfast, Dr Crowe said: “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.

“So they’re 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 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 over-run 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,” Dr Crowe said.

Dr Crowe added 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.”

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

Twenty five per cent of all newly registered nurses in this country originate from outside Ireland. However, Vinu Kaippilly, national member co-ordinator of MNI, has indicated many have found life in Ireland is not what they expected it to be.

He told the Pat Kenny Show on Newstalk that because Ireland has had only 20 to 25 years of migration, nurses from overseas report a variety of experiences here.

“So those nurses who came here ten 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. But the scenario has changed.

“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. ... There’s a bit of system racism happening, and that’s affecting the daily life of the Irish nurses,” Mr Kaippilly said.

Earlier this summer, the MNI requested an immediate review of the adaptation programme and aptitude test for nurses. It said these tests “are not conducted in a migrant friendly way in many instances currently”.