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A record 1,450 doctors voluntarily withdrew from the Medical Council of Ireland last year

To practice medicine in Ireland you must be registered with the council.

Image: Shutterstock/Blue Planet Studio

ALMOST 70% OF doctors who de-registered to practice medicine in Ireland said they intend on practicing medicine abroad, a new report has shown.

The Medical Council of Ireland’s annual report revealed a record-high number of doctors de-registered from the council last year. That figure stood at 1,453 doctors, representing an increase of 37% on the number of doctors that left the register the previous year. 

In order to practice medicine in Ireland you must be registered with the council. 

In 2017, some 1,054 doctors withdrew from the register on top of a further 948 which left it in 2016.

The latest figures come against the backdrop of an escalating recruitment and retention crisis within the HSE.

Dr Padraig McGarry, president of the IMO, said: “It is of vital importance that steps are taken to ensure that Ireland is made a more attractive work location for our medical graduates and doctors.

“We must ensure that doctors at the start of their career enjoy a better work life balance, and the key to this is to firstly accurately measure doctor working hours and bring those hours into compliance with the law.”

Medical Council president, Dr Rita Doyle said: “Ireland’s education and training of doctors is internationally recognised, however, recruiting and retaining our pool of highly qualified Irish-trained doctors continues to prove challenging.

She continued: “It is essential that we commence to tackle these issues and that any change to the education system needs to be conducted in a holistic manner with co-ordinated workforce planning to determine the requirements and place doctors in the right location with the appropriate qualification 

Some 70% of the doctors who withdrew from the register were aged 44 or over, 52% were female and 12% were interns. 

The reasons cited for leaving varied from workplace issues and a lack of resources, to those who said they felt there was a lack of appreciation of doctors, and others who left for family reasons. 

Although a record number of doctors left the register, some 2,190 registered for the first time, with the total number of registrants ranging in age from 22 to 71 years old. 

Some 42% of the register was made up of international medical graduates and 72% of registered doctors said they practice exclusively in Ireland. 

“Through evidence-based, data-driven reporting, we can provide this continuing national picture of the medical workforce in Ireland, identify trends, highlight areas of concern and make suggestions on how to address issues,” CEO Bill Pasifka said.

“This report contains continued trends and concerning insights, which need to be addressed collaboratively by policymakers, educators, planners and employers to effect change,” he added. 

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