It’s no mystery why doctors are leaving

 

Sir, – Dr Alex Hartington (Letters, September 29th) suggests that expanding graduate-entry medical programmes may be a solution to Ireland’s failure to retain doctors trained here.

I suggest a more direct solution: treating our doctors fairly and equitably as partners in improving our health service, employing them in numbers sufficient to meet the population’s needs, and building a health service that works for patients.

The State has chosen to antagonise and under-resource public health doctors in the middle of a pandemic, rather than give them full consultant status which is deserved and long overdue.

The State has chosen to continue to ignore a consultant recruitment crisis, where consultants employed since 2012 are paid over 30 per cent less than their pre-2012 colleagues while sharing identical responsibilities. Even if we filled the 500 posts vacant as a result of this failed policy dating back to Dr James Reilly’s tenure as minister for health, Ireland would still have the lowest consultant numbers per capita in Europe; this leads to pressured working and less time to innovate.

Non-consultant hospital doctors in some parts of the country continue to work unsafe shifts in excess of 24 hours. Flexible working arrangements are hard to come by, and hospital placements often result in families being separated from one another for months at a time. GPs have highlighted the growing pressures they are under for years.

Why do doctors leave Ireland? It’s hardly a mystery, and patients are paying the price. – Yours, etc,

Dr IRWIN GILL,

Dublin 2.