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Irish Medical Organisation response to Medical Council Workforce Intelligence Report

The Irish Medical Organisation (IMO) has said that the recent Medical Council’s ‘Medical Workforce Intelligence Consolidated Report 2022’ highlights the lack of workforce planning to ensure we have enough doctors to meet the demands of an increasing population.

The report outlines the major, sustained shortfall of doctors across medical specialties, including consultants, GPs and non-consultant hospital doctors (NCHDs). This shortfall is having a significant negative effect on patient care and doctor welfare in Ireland.

Speaking today, Prof Matthew Sadlier, Chair of IMO Consultant Committee said: “Our health system is caught in a vicious circle, whereby we do not have enough doctors to meet the ever-increasing demand, leading to more pressure and burnout for the doctors we do have working in Ireland. This in turn leads to poorer patient outcomes and increased doctor attrition. Unfortunately, this report highlights the fact that we do not have a proper plan in place to reverse this trend. Ireland has one of the lowest ratios of consultants to population ratios in the OECD, an ageing GP population of which many are close to retirement, and an NCHD cohort that is regularly asked to work in contravention to the European Working Time Directive. For example, IMO research shows that more than 77% of NCHDs routinely work more than 48 hours a week, which is both illegal and unsafe, leading to a widespread risk of burnout and stress.”

The report shows that 3,008 doctors registered with the Medical Council for the first time in 2022, and 1,341 doctors voluntarily withdrew their services from the register.

“This report backs up what the IMO has been saying for many years; namely, that our long working hours, poor work/life balance and stressful working conditions are driving doctors away from Ireland and to countries that support them and properly value their contribution.”

Of the doctors who registered with the Medical Council for the first time in 2022, 71% had an international basic medical qualification (BMQ), while just 29% had an Irish BMQ. “We are utterly reliant on international medical graduates to plug the gaps but, predictably, we are not doing nearly enough to support them by offering meaningful career and training pathways,” continued Prof Sadlier.

Prof Sadlier said that much more needs to be done not only to recruit sufficient numbers of doctors, particularly in the context of expected retirements but to improve the working environment so that they are enabled and supported to deliver care in a safe way. Of the 23,108 doctors retained on the Medical Council’s register in 2022, 21% were aged 55 or above. “This report highlights the crisis in our medical workforce and is all the more ironic given the fact we have an ongoing recruitment freeze for NCHDs not in training posts which is having a detrimental effect on the service.”

(Source: IMO.ie)

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