THE HSE IN Dublin alone has spent more than €80,000 housing junior doctors recruited from India and Pakistan to ease a hospital staffing crisis.
However, almost half of the doctors have not been able to register for work, despite having arrived in Ireland back in July.
Of the 266 doctors who were recruited and brought to this country – in a trip costing the HSE more than €100,000 – just 150 have successfully passed all the administrative hurdles and joined hospital teams. Thirty failed to pass exams set by the Medical Council.
In order to register, the doctors must submit a range of documents proving their qualifications; pass the practical exam; and secure a declaration from their Irish hospital that proper supervision will be in place.
The doctors are not being paid before they begin work. Instead, they are housed in hospital accommodation or B&Bs and given a small stipend for food. The bill for this in Dublin alone has come to €80,709, Minister for Health James Reilly said in answer to a parliamentary question. He said other HSE regions were yet to submit their spending details.
The minister added the recruitment of the Indian and Pakistani doctors would mean “significant pay savings” thanks to reductions in overtime and agency bills.
Two weeks ago, the Irish Association for Emergency Medicine warned that the health service was at “breaking point” over doctor shortages in hospitals. Spokesperson John McInerney said the system was already under severe strain and a crisis was imminent if demand grew as usual over the winter.
Minister Reilly said the relevant authorities are “working actively” to speed up registration of the medics from India and Pakistan. “The Medical Council and the HSE are working to ensure that the necessary procedures to facilitate the registration of doctors are completed as quickly as possible, so that they can take up duty,” he stated.