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The report stressed the need for opening the training posts more to non-EU medical graduates, which is very much supported by the OMI. For most non-EU doctors, the biggest blockade in career progression seems to be coming not from the HSE/ Health Ministry, but from the Irish Medical Council (IMC) and its policies on non-EU doctors.
The first step is obviously to retain the Irish medical graduates in this country but unfortunately, the exodus of local graduates is continuing unabated. The failure to be compliant with the EU Working Time Directive for NCHDs will further compound the situation. In the wake of this shocking revelation by Mr Gouda, the OMI Working Committee takes this opportunity again to demand an urgent re-review of the non-EU internship assessment clauses by the IMC to save the Irish health system from lack of doctors.
The OMI strongly thinks the main barrier for non-EU graduates is the interpretation of the MPA 2007 by the Council, not the MPA 2007 itself. Though the IMC maintains that the MPA 2007 is the main barrier for not allowing most non-EU doctors training posts, the OMI, having scrutinised the law, concludes that within the current format of the law, an acceptable solution can easily be found if the IMC drops its over-legalistic approach to the Act.
In the Organisation’s opinion, the MPA 2007 did not cite any clear or rigid guidelines on non-EU internship assessment — the rigorous internship assessment guidelines is clearly a decision taken by an IMC Adjudication Committee, not by the relevant subsections of the MPA 2007. This IMC decision has made its internship assessment exam meaningless for career progression for many non-EU doctors.
The OMI endeavours to support the Irish health system by trying to retain non-EU medical graduates in Ireland in this hour of crisis that seem to threaten patient safety. But without urgent access to training posts, it will prove impossible to stop the exodus of its non-EU members — Indians, pre-2009 Pakistanis, Russians, Egyptians, Ukrainians, Nigerians, Bangladeshis.
The OMI thinks the main spirit of the MPA 2007 to uphold patient safety is being compromised due to the doctor shortage. The IMC cannot avoid its responsibilities for this shortage, in addition to other contributing factors like poor Working Time Directive compliance and lack of career progression in Ireland.
The OMI has already established contact with the Ombudsman’s Office, the Competition Authority, the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission and the Immigrant Council to get their views on the IMC decision to deny training posts to non-EU doctors in the name of certain subsections of the MPA 2007.
However, the OMI had decided to hold off any legal action until this month, as we hope by this time the Indian internship verdict will officially be announced by the the Council. So far, it is our knowledge that the Internship Adjudication Committee submitted its assessment to the IMC Registration Working Group at the end of February and the OMI believes early April is sufficient time for the Registration Working Group to make an official announcement.
If the outcome is positive, the OMI can resume the dialogue with the IMC again on various outstanding issues like recognition of internship of other non-EU medical graduates (Pakistan pre-2009, Egypt, Libya, Ukraine, Russia) and on the ongoing long delays in processing registration of non-EU medical graduates. It is our hope that we can reach an acceptable solution before September 2015 for most of our members.
Dr Shakya Bhattacahrjee,
Overseas Medics of Ireland.