Doctors and emigration


Sir, – I read with interest Niamh Humphries’s article “300 Irish doctors got visas for Australia this year. Why?” (Analysis, June 19th). She laments that the HSE has not ascertained why so many Irish doctors emigrate each year and alludes to the fact that medical migration is done presumably to escape a stressed, under-resourced health system with a poor quality of life for its employees. In September 2015, The Irish Times reported on the “Failure to Retain” study which was commissioned to look at medical emigration. Although it has been a tumultuous time for the HSE since 2008 with budgetary constraints, employment embargoes and negative publicity, it should be acknowledged that medical migration is not a product of the last decade.

For years Irish medical graduates have had to resort to seek higher speciality training opportunities abroad following dedicated years of service at home due to a chronic lack of specialist training places. A reluctance to expand certain specialities due to an oligopoly-like mentality and a perceived threat to private practice has aided this.

That medical migration is not recorded by the HSE bodes poorly for future workforce planning. With an obvious loss of highly trained domestic talent to foreign healthcare economies, it is incumbent on the HSE to attract this talent home to properly resourced jobs with adequate opportunities.

It is reassuring that Dr Humphries’s article does identify that the Irish medical diaspora has plenty to offer to the future development of the HSE but it should additionally be acknowledged that there are plenty of graduates working in the US and the UK health economies whose return could also benefit the development of a more efficient health service. – Yours, etc,


Liverpool, UK.