Reilly to act over loss of trained doctors

Current system deemed 'immoral and wrong' by Minister for Health

It is a “perversity” that the best and brightest in Ireland are trained as doctors and then pushed out of the country by the way they are treated, with the health service left to rob the Third World for doctors to work here, the Minister for Health has said.

James Reilly said he wanted to see major reforms to employment and training structures for non-consultant hospital doctors put in place by next summer.

He told the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Health and Children yesterday that the current system was "immoral and wrong".

He said he had asked the president of Dublin City University Brian MacCraith to bring together a group of non-consultant doctors – interns, senior house officers, registrars and specialist registrars – to ask them how the situation could be addressed. He wanted to create a space in which non-consultant doctors could give their thoughts "without intimidation from people at the top" or "fear of consequence for them".


“I know for a fact that young doctors are, many times, afraid to speak out. They will work out their contract and just leave because to do otherwise they will have their references impaired and will not be able to get decent jobs further on. This has to stop.” He said he was going to receive an initial report in September and a final document in November.

“It is utterly unacceptable to me to be asking doctors to work the sort of hours they are working, to make life and death decisions that can harm patients in a very serious way and harm the doctors themselves. In other countries they manage this in a very clear way.”

He said hospitals needed service from non-consultant hospital doctors, “but we must also give them proper training and a life/work balance”.

Martin Wall

Martin Wall

Martin Wall is Washington Correspondent of The Irish Times. He was previously industry correspondent