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Non-EU doctors in Ireland ‘will retire as registrars’

Some senior registrars from non-EU countries are entering their fifties without any hope of accessing formalised training in Ireland, heard the National NCHD Meeting at the IMO AGM 2017.

Dr Hammad Danish, an internal medicine SHO at Cavan General Hospital, told the meeting that many colleagues who are senior registrars are “stuck in their career”.

Currently, under EU law, a non-EU doctor is offered a training post only when that position could not have been filled by an EU doctor.

Dr Danish described as “inhumane” a situation whereby a doctor knows they can never progress to consultant level. He said the matter needed to be raised with the Department of Justice.

Speaking to the Medical Independent (MI), Dr Danish, who is originally from Pakistan, said that this year there were 405 applicants for Basic Specialist Training (BST) in medicine and 253 vacancies. He said he ranked well but his status as a non-EU national was not in his favour. Dr Danish said there were registrars working at that grade for 10-to-15 years and who “will retire as registrars”.

Some experienced doctors have relocated to the UK, where there are more opportunities for formalised training open to non-EU citizens, outlined Dr Danish.

In his department at Cavan, there are no Irish doctors, apart from one consultant.

Earlier, the meeting discussed another barrier to training access faced by many non-EU doctors who must meet the internship equivalency stipulation in the Medical Practitioners Act, 2007. Dr Sarah Barry pointed out that, even when these doctors had completed membership examinations, the status of their internship would still restrict their access to training.

Reform of the Act has been impacted by the slow pace of legislation moving through the current Dáil, the meeting also heard.

The meeting unanimously agreed that the IMO call on the Minister for Health to push for passage of an amendment to allow for “all NCHDs entitled to practice medicine in Ireland to be entitled to enter postgraduate training in Ireland”.

Dr Barry said it was “shocking” that doctors who assisted in the training of colleagues and who cared for patients could not access formal training.

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