Retaining our medical graduates

 

Sir, – Your editorial “Doctor shortage: The real impact on patients” (December 3rd) alludes to reduced salaries as the cause of the inability to attract hospital consultants to posts throughout the country.

While welcome, addressing the salary differential will unfortunately not rectify the current workforce issue in many hospitals.

The “elephant in the room” is the persistent failure to address the lack of attractiveness of many posts, particularly in our smaller hospitals where most of these vacancies exist.

While Sláintecare offers some hope for the better integration of healthcare provision, our fragmented health service, with its duplication of scare resources and a lack of “join-up” between community care and hospitals and between our smaller and larger hospitals, poses real challenges to recruitment and retention of a skilled medical workforce.

Unless these issues are addressed, Ireland can never aspire to provide a truly world-class health service and smaller hospitals will continue to remain unattractive to Irish medical graduates. The reasons for this are multifaceted but include competing family commitments, unfavourable rotas, lack of peer support, poor career advancement, an inability to access advanced medical diagnostics and treatments and the timely transfer of patients who require complex care. Nationally, these factors all mitigate against the provision of a rewarding, productive and fulfilling career for young medical graduates.

Many of these issues are yet again highlighted in this year’s Medical Council’s Medical Workforce Intelligence Report 2019 & 2020, published this week.

Communities around the country and their public representatives should understand that a 21st-century health service that is fit for purpose can only come about with a major restructuring of acute hospital services. – Yours,etc,

KENNETH MEALY, MD

Chairman,

Forum of Irish

Postgraduate Medical

Training Bodies,

South Fredrick Street,

Dublin 2.