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As the Secretary of the Overseas Medics of Ireland, I am keeping track of what is happening regarding the non-EU doctors, including doctors from India.
Recently, you met one of our colleagues in the IMO meeting. As per newspaper reports, you agreed to change the law, though no deadlines have been set.
Last year in August, you wrote a long letter to me expressing your willingness to change the law to retain the talented non-EU physicians in Ireland, as this country badly needs dedicated and competent doctors to sustain the health service.
You assured me that you would try your best to sort it out before August 2015. Though we are four months short of August, nothing is happening at the ground level.
As ordinary people, other non-EU doctors and I do not understand the complexities of the law and technical terms like ‘statutory instructions’ or ‘amendments’ but we do understand that non-EU docs are being exploited (the IMO also said the same more openly) and innocent Irish people are badly suffering due to lack of doctors.
At the recent IMO AGM, you explained that your father came to Ireland 40 years ago and was allowed to train and to flourish. It is surprising, however, that four decades later, many non-EU doctors, including Indian medics, are being denied training opportunities since 2011.
We expected in 2014 when you became the Minister for Health that at least justice would be done. However, I was probably wrong. I do apologise to the Irish people and to many non-EU doctors as I thought this injustice would come to an end.
In a few short months, this year will send.
Another application year for training posts will be advertised and a large number of Indian and non-EU doctors will be denied application rights, all in the name of law. Many of them will leave for the UK, US or Australia. Many more will be forced to languish in Irish hospitals due to financial and family reasons and will silently tolerate the exploitation and plight.
Justice will remain as elusive as ever.
Justice delayed is justice denied. If you have problems changing the law, the least you could do is to allow general registration doctors apply for training programmes. Between 2012-14, these doctors were allowed to apply for training posts under the Registrar Training Programme. In fact, I finished this programme as a general registration doctor and the Irish Medical Council was happy to allow it.
Dr Shakya Bhattacharjee,
General Secretary, OMI.