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Retention strategies needed for ‘older cohort’ of doctors

By David Lynch - 20th Nov 2023

retention strategies

There is a need for specific retention strategies for an “older cohort” of senior doctors who the healthcare system is “losing” to early retirement, the Medical Director of HSE National Doctors Training and Planning (NDTP) has told this newspaper.

Speaking to the Medical Independent (MI) at the NDTP’s National Medical Workforce Conference on 9 November, Prof Brian Kinirons said this cohort has not received the same focus as younger doctors in terms of retention strategies.

“We are losing an older cohort of experienced senior clinicians due to retirement,” said Prof Kinirons. “I think when we talk about retaining our workforce, that is a cohort that we previously haven’t talked about. I think there are things we can do to retain this experience in the health service and that would be a benefit to the health service.”

He added: “There are simple things we can do that may encourage some senior doctors [to stay]… such as reducing the burden of unscheduled care or on-call care.”

Prof Kinirons said that he did not see this issue as specifically a “Covid problem”.

“Covid may have accelerated the retirement of some senior clinicians, but having said that, we also had clinicians who had retired and who came out of retirement when the call for help was made during Covid… so we saw it both ways.”

Meanwhile, Prof Kinirons also told MI that NDTP would like to see a more “nuanced” narrative in the public discussion around retention and recruitment of doctors.

“It is not as simple as ‘all our doctors are leaving and going to Australia’. I think we have very good training programmes and that is why our doctors are in demand overseas.”

Earlier at the conference, Prof Kinirons presented data that showed many trainees who emigrate do return home later in their career. Data also showed that most Irish doctors go to the UK rather than Australia.

“If we are looking at retention strategies, we should be looking at the UK, not Australia,” said Prof Kinirons, who noted this was already the focus of the HSE.

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