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Housing is a major issue for international trainees

In addition, it is understood visa arrangements for spouses accompanying trainees do not permit them to work in Ireland. The IMGTI is a joint initiative between the HSE and the Forum of Irish Postgraduate Medical Training Bodies.

Minutes of a meeting of the IMGTI Joint Committee in September referred to difficulties sourcing accommodation, as reported by trainees in an exit survey. Separately, the minutes stated that a number of spouses of trainees in the programme had been requesting to work in Ireland while accompanying their spouse. “Trainees and families must be attached to the same visa and should not change their visa status.  This stipulation to be incorporated into training agreements,” the minutes added.

A HSE spokesperson told MI that “the purpose of the IMGTI training programme is to give doctors training in Ireland for a defined period of time and then to have those doctors return to their own countries to enhance those health systems”.

They continued: “The HSE and training bodies through IMGTI are committed to the WHO [World Health Organisation] Global Code on the Ethical Recruitment of Health Personnel. All parties ensure that doctors on the programme come to Ireland for the purposes of medical training only and IMGTI is not intended to lead to permanent settlement in Ireland.

“Spouses of IMG trainees are entitled to join their partner in Ireland and to study, as this is not reckonable time for immigration residency purposes.” Local HSE and HSE-funded hospitals source accommodation for trainees for their first week in Ireland and assist trainees to find accommodation “on a case-by-case basis”. However, due to the rental market nationwide, “this remains a challenge”, stated the HSE.

According to minutes of the IMGTI Joint Committee meeting in September, an exit survey found that “overall, trainees’ expectations of the programme were met and they would highly recommend the programme”.

Tripartite agreements for medical training are in place between the HSE, Irish training bodies and training bodies in Pakistan, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, United Arab Emirates and Sudan.

Currently, there are 161 IMGTI trainees in Ireland.

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