IMO AGM hears of Recruitment and Retention challenges for health services and gender equality issues in Irish medicine.
Dr. Madeleine ni Dhálaigh said; “the (gender equality) survey demonstrates
that …more needs to be done to support female participation in the medical
workforce. Doctors – both male and female – recognise that and there is a
growing impatience to see solid progress on making the health services a
more welcoming environment for females. “
Embargo: 2.30pm Saturday 28th May 2022. The AGM of the Irish Medical Organisation
featured two sessions today on post pandemic challenges for the health services and gender
equality in the health services respectively.
Post Pandemic Challenges for Health Services – Recruitment and Retention.
The AGM heard that Australia has issued 402 work visas to Irish doctors in 2022 so far. This
compares to 272 in 2019 (the last year before the pandemic).
The figures were revealed by Dr. Niamh Humphries who was addressing a session on the
key issues facing the health service post pandemic. Dr. Humphries, who was speaking about
the challenge of Recruitment and Retention, is a Senior Lecturer in the RCSI Graduate School
of Healthcare Management.
Dr. Humphries said that from a manpower point of view there were four key challenges
facing the health services: Weak Doctor Retention, Difficult Working Conditions,
Wellbeing/Work Life Balance and Absence of Hope.
Dr. Humphries said that efforts to improve the health system through initiatives such as
Slaintecare and in the context of an aging population were reliant on our ability to recruit
and retain more doctors.
On difficult working conditions, Dr. Humphries said that Ireland fared particularly poorly in
relation to the number of consultants per 100,000 population; in Ireland the figure was 71
whereas in Australia the figure was 133. Similar in terms of the ratio of NCHDs to
Consultants, in Ireland the ratio was 2.28:1 whereas in Australia the figure was 0.8:1
Service in Ireland was also characterised by long working hours, high work intensive and
working at a fast pace. Dr. Humphries characterised it as an “extreme” way of working.
Speaking at the same session, Dr. Brian Turner from UCC highlighted the relative shortahge
of beds per head of population in Ireland compared to the OECD average.
In 2019 Ireland had 2.9 hospital beds per 1,000 population compared to 4.4% which is the
average in the OECD. Ireland has 5.2 adult intensive care beds per 1,000 of the population
compared to 14.1 on average in the OECD countries. The figures in Ireland relate to critical
care beds and the rose to 5.6 in 2020 and a maximum of 7.1 in 2020
Gender Equality in Irish Medicine
The AGM also heard from speakers on the issue of Gender Equality in medicine. Findings
from research on the issue undertaken by the IMO reveal:
The median earnings of female medical practitioners is 31.5% less than their male
Females tend to be over-represented in specialities such as Public Health, General
Practice, Psychiatry and under-represented in surgical specialities.
Both male and female doctors report experiencing difficulty in accessing child are
and 78% of all doctors with children believe that the HSE should provide childcare
facilities on site in line with expected working hours.
In relation to bullying and harassment, while similar percentages of both male and
female doctors had experienced bullying (52.2% and 59.4% respectively), the
experience of gender-based harassment and sexual harassment was heavily skewed
against females. 53.6% of females v 12.4% of males had experienced gender-based
harassment and 39.8% of females v 13.8% of males had experienced sexual
Reflecting a lower tolerance generally towards bullying and harassment, the numbers who
regarded it as “a serious issue” have increased from 24.8% in 2016 to 57.4% in the latest
Speaking today, Dr. Madeleine ni Dhálaigh said; “the survey demonstrates that the
experience of the medical workforce is similar to the experience of the broader workforce.
More needs to be done to support female participation in the medical workforce. Doctors –
both male and female – recognise that and there is a growing impatience to see solid
progress on making the health services a more welcoming environment for females. “