‘Significant policy change’ to help career progression of non-EU doctors

Doctors had been effectively barred from taking up postgraduate training places

Data from the council show just 4.5 per cent of doctors registered on the trainee specialist division are non-EU. Photograph: Andrew Matthews/PA Wire

Data from the council show just 4.5 per cent of doctors registered on the trainee specialist division are non-EU. Photograph: Andrew Matthews/PA Wire

 

Doctors from outside the EU/EEA, who have been effectively barred from taking up postgraduate training places, will soon be able to under plans announced on Sunday by Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly.

Currently, when doctors apply for postgraduate medical training to specialise in particular areas of medicine, preference in allocating places is given to doctors trained in the EU/EEA or Britain.

In practice this has meant the 44 per cent of doctors on the Irish Medical Council’s general register trained outside the EU/EEA cannot get on these courses, effectively barring them from career progression into consultancies or GP posts.

Data from the council show just 4.5 per cent of doctors registered on the trainee specialist division are non-EU.

Describing the measure as a “significant policy change” Minister Donnelly said it would “provide greater career opportunities for non-EU/EEA doctors who contributed significantly to our health service”.

He added: “I have long recognised the significant role that non-EEA nationals play in the Irish health service and, in November 2020 I announced changes to the Medical Practitioners Act 2007, which removed the barriers faced by some non-EEA doctors in applying to national training programmes.

In April more than 40 consultants and medical professors from Dublin’s Beaumont Hospital wrote to the Minister Donnelly saying it was “galling” to see colleagues, who had put their health at risk to care for patients during the Covid-19 pandemic, “stalled in their career progress”.

“Doctors who have proven themselves appointable to higher specialist training and have worked so hard for the HSE, and who are eligible for citizenship should be allowed progress in their careers.”

The letter cited the example of Dr Faraz Rafey from India who attended medical school in Romania and moved to Ireland in 2014.

He had interviewed four times for the national specialist scheme in endocrinology and had been ranked each time well enough to be offered a post. One year he was ranked first on the panel but still he could not be offered the position as a non-EU national.

Minister Donnelly said on Sunday he would continue to work with the HSE and the Postgraduate Medical Training Bodies to increase the number of available training places in line with medical workforce planning requirements.”

From now on, available specialist training places will be allocated in the first instance to those candidates who, at the time of application, are citizens of Ireland or nationals of another EU/EEA member state, UK nationals and anyone from outside these areas who holds a Stamp 4 visa.

This type of visa allows holders to stay in Ireland for a specified period, subject to conditions. They may take up employment and are not required to hold an employment permit, and can work in a profession, subject to conditions of the relevant professional or other bodies.