Irish Medical Organisation

Statement: OECD Figures Highlight Ireland’s Consultant Crisis

  • Ireland has lowest number of Consultant Specialists in EU
  • 40% increase in Irish doctors working in Australia compared to 2013 figures
  • Catastrophic Consultant shortage sees 7,000 patients on hospital trolleys in June, and 500,000 patients on waiting lists

Friday, July 5th, 2019.  Ireland has the lowest number of Consultant Specialists in the EU, according to newly released figures by the OECD. The European average is 2.45 per 1,000 population, but Ireland lingers far below that with just 1.44 per 1,000.

The new figures demonstrate the catastrophic Consultant shortage in a system which does not respect its doctors. Just this week the Medical Council’s “Your Training Counts” report showed that 40% of trainees had reported bullying and a third have worked unsafe hours, while we have a two-tier, discriminatory pay scale for our Consultants based solely on an arbitrary date.

In what was once considered a “winter problem”, we now have a trolley crisis all year round with over 7,000 patients on trolleys in June.

Ireland produces one of the highest amount of medical graduates in the EU each year and yet vacant Consultant posts are being advertised without a single applicant. This is unprecedented in Irish healthcare.

OECD figures show that 1,179 Irish doctors are now working in Australia, a 40% increase on 2013. 1,717 are working in Canada and the amount of doctors emigrating to the UK each year to work has increased by a third since 2013.

Irish Medical Organisation President Padraig McGarry said: “These figures are yet another indictment of our Government’s lack of regard for the medical profession in Ireland, and are further proof that our system is broken and needs immediate attention. The sad reality is that our youngest doctors, the specialists of the future, simply do not want to work in a system where they are not respected, where they are completely unable to provide the care that they have been trained to do and where one in three doctors suffer from burnout. They are being welcomed with open arms to other shores – we are literally training our doctors for export. The lack of specialists in Ireland means that it is impossible for patients in our hospitals to get access to the high levels of care that they deserve. This dire situation must be addressed as a matter of urgency.”

On April 27th, 2019, at the IMO’s AGM, the Minister for Health Simon Harris said: "I will work with you to engage to find a process to end the issue of new entrant consultant pay." We are still waiting – as are 500,000 patients who are currently on waiting lists, in need of care that cannot be currently delivered.

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