Radio One-News at One -22nd September 2011
Irish Medical Organisation

RTE Radio News at One - 22nd September 2011

Dr Ronan Boland discussed the issue of foreign doctor recruitment with Sean O'Rourke.


The IMO has stated that the delay surrounding the registration and placement of foreign doctors by the HSE is not showing Ireland in a good light. Dr Ronan Boland went on News at One to discuss the matter. This is a transcript of that radio interview:

Sean O’Rourke:

Meanwhile we got to the news that the Irish Medical Organisation has condemned the HSE for what it claims is the poor treatment of junior hospital doctors recruited from India and Pakistan to work here.  In a moment we’ll hear from the President of the IMO, Dr. Roland Boland, but first we’ve been speaking to one of the two hundred and eighty doctors who came here from India and Pakistan about his experience.  He says he’s been given food and lodgings but hasn’t yet been paid any money or told when he can take up employment.  He didn’t want to be identified.

Unnamed Junior Doctor:

Before moving to Ireland everything was green, we were pretty happy, but right now it’s all full of uncertainty.  We don’t know where the future is going to, where we are going, where we are heading, we have no idea.  The problem that we are facing right now is the uncertainty regarding our future.  There is no-one who is replying to our emails, there is no-one who is answering our phonecalls.  HSE have provided our food and lodging so that the expense is not that much but we have been losing the salary which we were earning back home so obviously we are not getting that.  We came here hoping that HSE is our local guardian, we came here, we tried calling them up, we tried asking different people from HSE but there is no-one who has been responding to our mails or to our calls and they’re not even telling us the future date of our assessment.  At least we should be told when the letters will be so that we can plan our future ahead in a better way.

Sean O’Rourke:

So that’s one of the doctors who has been awaiting for two months now or more for clarity about when he will be able to take up work for which he was recruited by the HSE.  Dr. Ronan Boland, President of the IMO, good afternoon to you.

Dr. Ronan Boland: (President, IMO)

Good afternoon to you.

Sean O’Rourke:

What kind of pressure are you putting on the HSE and also on the Medical Council  because they’re the ones that do the registering, isn’t that right?

Dr. Ronan Boland:

Yes, the Medical Council do the registering and carry out a very important function because obviously there has to be a system of checks and balances to ensure that any doctor coming to work, any doctor either within the jurisdiction or coming from a different jurisdiction, is suitably trained and experienced to carry out the work which they intend to do.  Nevertheless, the regulations which the Medical Council had in place, the HSE would have been well aware of before they recruited doctors such as the doctor who contributed to your clip there, so I think any attempt by the HSE to lay the blame at the foot of the Medical Council is misguided, I think the responsibility here rests fairly and squarely with the HSE who have conducted a recruitment campaign to bring doctors from India and Pakistan, leaving their families, leaving posts as that doctor outlined, with a promise of work here and, as that doctor outlined and as many doctors....

Sean O’Rourke:

But can you just give us some insight into this Dr. Boland, why does it take so long for the, without wishing to get into the blame game, why does it take so long for the Medical Council to carry out its checks?

Dr. Ronan Boland:

Well I’m not here to speak on behalf of the Medical Council.

Sean O’Rourke:

No, I just want you to explain to our listeners who are wondering, you know, you’re a doctor, you’re President of the IMO, you surely must know.

Dr. Ronan Boland:

Well I would know in a general sense, I’m not directly involved in the Medical Council, it has very detailed procedures to ensure, and rightly so in protecting the public interest, to ensure that doctors, to validate doctors previous experience, to ensure that their registration is in place and we’re also in a new system where we’ve had a new Medical Practitioners Act and the registration system is somewhat different.

Sean O’Rourke:

So was it totally unrealistic of the HSE to recruit these people, to bring them, or at least to pay for their travel and accommodation to Ireland, in the expectation that they wouldn’t be left lying around the place for two months unable to work?

Dr. Ronan Boland:

I think it is clear that the competence of the HSE in the way that they have conducted this recruitment campaign has to be called into question.  I believe that the individuals involved who’ve headed up this recruitment campaign should be held to account to explain their actions.  The IMO has highlighted this matter as a humanitarian issue on the basis that we have been contacted by numerous, extremely upset, vulnerable doctors, many of whom feel victimised, feel threatened, are reluctant to be identified.  The doctor who contributed to your programme is one of the few who’s been willing to speak out at all and as a matter of fact many of them....

Sean O’Rourke:

But have you gone, and I accept your criticisms if they’re valid of the HSE, which by the way says it follows the WHO’s Code of Practise on Ethical Recruitment, but have you gone to the IMO, sorry have you gone to the Medical Council I should say, and said what can you do to speed up this process?

Dr. Ronan Boland:

Well in relation to the, you mentioned the WHO’s Code of Practise, the IMO wrote to the  HSE almost a year ago asking that the HSE would sign up to that voluntary code and the HSE haven’t even acknowledged the correspondence.

Sean O’Rourke:

And the answer to the question I asked you?

Dr. Ronan Boland:

In answer to the question, the Medical Council is set up under statutory regulations to conduct its functions, I mean to be honest with you it isn’t the role of the IMO to put pressure on the Medical Council, the Medical Council has to go about....

Sean O’Rourke:

It’s the role surely of the IMO to represent the interest of doctors and you’re doing that on a humanitarian basis out of concern and you’re basically saying you’re afraid to say boo to the Medical Council.

Dr. Ronan Boland:

Well  no, that’s simply not true, I mean what I will say is the doctors in question are not even members of the IMO, the IMO has had no part in the recruitment, in this recruitment campaign.

Sean O’Rourke:

Of course, that’s understood, but out of humanitarian concern for colleagues you’re presumably anxious to have this matter sorted out.

Dr.  Ronan Boland:

Of course we are and the IMO has regular and ongoing contact with the Medical Council in relation to difficulties.

Sean O’Rourke:

And what have you said to them?

Dr. Ronan Boland:

The IMO hasn’t met specifically with the Council in the last few weeks in relation to this matter, I mean...

Sean O’Rourke:

Have you sought a meeting?

Dr. Ronan Boland:

Not to my knowledge by the....

Sean O’Rourke:

Well you’re the President!

Dr. Ronan Boland:

Yes I am the President but I will reiterate what I said which is it is the view, the clear view of the IMO, that the responsibility for the difficulties that have arisen rests firmly and squarely on the shoulders of the HSE who conducted the recruitment campaign.

Sean O’Rourke:

Of course but do you not think the Medical Council could do a little bit more, have you anything to say about that?

Dr. Ronan Boland:

Look Sean, I was at a meeting in Dublin yesterday, I had doctors, hospital consultants and doctors from hospitals around the country who described in great detail to me doctors from India and Pakistan who were sitting in canteens in hospitals around this country unable to work, twiddling their thumbs, eating in the hospital canteens, sleeping in bed and breakfasts.

Sean O’Rourke:

We know all that but what do you think the Medical Council should do about it?

Dr. Ronan Boland:

I’m saying to you quite clearly that the Medical Council procedures take a considerable period of time to go through and I think it was completely unrealistic of the HSE to suppose that they could bring in, at very short notice, the difficulties that arose on the 1st of July were entirely predictable and the delays which are now arising in respect of registration were also entirely predictable because the procedures of the Medical Council take time.  We know that and the HSE know that and the HSE should answer for the fact that they have brought doctors into this country, I would go so far as to say under false pretences with unrealistic expectations...

Sean O’Rourke:

Sean it’s quite okay with you that the procedures take as long as they do.

Dr. Ronan Boland:

Obviously the procedures need to be as streamlined as possible but I will say, you can ask me as many times as you want, but trying to lay the blame for this difficulty....

Sean O’Rourke:

I’m not trying to do anything of the sort but I’m trying to sort of get to the heart of the thing but look we’ve talked this thing out, I think we’re not going to enlighten each other anymore on this one.  Dr. Ronan Boland, President of the IMO, thank you for joining us.

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