Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland Coláiste Ríoga na Máinleá in Éirinn

Two RCSI-led studies find doctor emigration remains a challenge for Irish Health Service

30 June 2016

Foreign trained doctors experience slower career progression than doctors trained in Ireland and half of them plan to move on to a new country, as reported in two papers from RCSI (Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland) and Trinity College Dublin (TCD), which were published today in BMC Human Resources for Health.

The study which surveyed 366 foreign doctors registered to practice medicine in Ireland, funded by the Health Research Board and enabled by the Medical Council, shows that international recruitment is not an effective long-term strategy for addressing shortages of doctors, with only around one third of foreign doctors planning to remain in Ireland.

In a third paper published today, the RCSI health workforce research group, in collaboration with a senior researcher from Dublin City University, reports that the longer the time that Irish-trained doctors spend abroad, the less likely they are to return to Ireland. A survey of 388 Irish trained health professionals working abroad - 307 doctors and 81 nurses/midwives, most of whom had left Ireland between 2008 and 2014, showed that the proportion of doctors who planned to remain abroad permanently had risen from 10% at the time they left Ireland to 34%, at the time of the 2014 survey.

According to Professor Ruairí Brugha of the RCSI, "there is a consistent pattern of findings from these studies. The same problems in how we manage our medical workforce, whether it is the doctors we train or those we recruit from overseas, are leading to large numbers leaving for more attractive jobs and increasingly to make their long-term careers abroad. The UK, Australia, Canada, US and New Zealand are the most popular destination countries".

"Two years ago, the Department of Health published the Strategic Review of Medical Training and Career Structures. This includes 25 recommendations which, if implemented, will address many of these doctors' concerns, especially if we can tackle the under-staffing of our hospitals," Professor Brugha continued.

These papers have been published in an issue of the journal Human Resources for Health, focusing on the WHO Global Code on the International Recruitment of Health Personnel. According to Professor Brugha, "the central tenet of the Global Code is that each country should train and retain the health professionals it needs. This applies just as much to a wealthy country like Ireland, which is now training the numbers of doctors it needs but has been losing them in increasing numbers, as it does to poorer countries from which we have recruited many of the doctors that staff our hospitals."

RCSI is ranked 46th in the world for ‘International Outlook' and 251 - 300 in the Times Higher Education World University Rankings (2015-2016). It is an international not-for-profit health sciences institution, with its headquarters in Dublin, focused on education and research to drive improvements in human health worldwide.



Editors Notes
Details of papers published today:
Brugha R, McAleese S, Dicker P, Tyrrell E, Thomas S, Normand C, Humphries N. Passing through - reasons why migrant doctors in Ireland plan to stay, return home or migrate onwards to new destination countries. 2016: DOI 10.1186/s12960-016-0121-z 
McAleese S, Clyne B, Matthews A, Brugha R, Humphries N. Gone for good? An online survey of emigrant health professionals using Facebook as a recruitment tool. Human Resources for Health. 2016: DOI 10.1186/s12960-016-0130-y
Tyrrell E, Keegan C, Humphries N, McAleese S, Thomas S, Normand C, Brugha R. Predictors of career progression and obstacles and opportunities for non-EU hospital doctors to undertake postgraduate training in Ireland. 2016: DOI 10.1186/s12960-016-0120-0
Details of papers 2015 paper on why Irish trained doctors have left
Humphries N, McAleese S, Matthews A, Brugha R. 'Emigration is a matter of self-preservation. The working conditions . . . are killing us slowly': qualitative insights into health professional emigration from Ireland. Hum Resour Health. 2015;13(1):35.