Press Release

Department of Health confirms actions already underway to retain doctors in Ireland

The Department of Health has said a range of actions are already underway to recruit and retain doctors at all levels of Ireland.

The Department was commenting on a survey of undergraduate medical students published by NUI Galway.

A spokesman for the Department said, “The recruitment and retention of doctors at all levels, from medical student  to specialist, is key to the effective functioning of the public health system. In this context, the implementation of the recommendations of the 2014 Strategic Review of Medical Training and Career Structure is a priority for the Minister for Health.

“The Strategic Review, chaired by Professor Brian MacCraith, President, DCU, made 25 recommendations addressing a range of barriers and issues relating to the recruitment and retention of doctors in the Irish health system, including medical career opportunities, working conditions, and flexible working for trainees and specialists alike. The Review also addressed the need to improve career planning and enhance mentoring/training supports for trainee doctors.”

“The first progress report on the implementation of the Strategic Review recommendations was published on 5 March 2015 on the Department of Health website. Substantial progress has been made in moving many of the recommendations forward, notably in relation to the quality of the training experience.”

“The next progress report will be finalised and published this summer so that all stakeholders, in particular trainee doctors, can assess the progress being made on this important agenda,” said the spokesman.


Notes for Editors
1.    Strategic Review of Medical Training and Career Structure

In July 2013, a Working Group, chaired by Prof. Brian MacCraith, President, Dublin City University, was established to carry out a strategic review of medical training and career structure. The Working Group made high-level recommendations relating to training and career pathways for doctors with a view to:

  • Improving graduate retention in the public health system;
  • Planning for future service needs;
  • Realising maximum benefit from investment in medical education and training.

The Strategic Review recommendations are being implemented through a range of structures and processes across the health system, involving multiple stakeholders.

To oversee implementation of the recommendations, the Department of Health has established an Implementation Monitoring Group, comprising key stakeholders including trainee doctors, the Forum of Irish Postgraduate Medical Training Bodies, the HSE, the IMO, the Medical Council and the Health Workforce Research Group, RCSI. The Group met for the first time in January 2015 and meetings will take place on a quarterly basis.

The first six-monthly progress report submitted to the Minister for Health addresses the period from 1st July 2014 to 31st January 2015. In summary:

  • 5 recommendations are at design phase;
  • 4 recommendations are at detailed planning phase;
  • 9 recommendations are at early implementation phase;
  • 10 recommendations are at advanced implementation phase.


2.    New Entrant Consultant Pay

One of the key Strategic Review recommendations, submitted in April 2014, was that the relevant parties commence a timetabled IR engagement of short duration to address the barrier caused by the variation in rates of remuneration that had emerged since 2012 between new entrant consultants and their established peers, following the 30% reduction in new entrant consultant pay.

The new salary was agreed between the Department of Health, the Department of Public Expenditure & Reform, the HSE and the IMO at the Labour Relations Commission.

The new rates will apply retrospectively to new entrant consultants with effect from 1st September 2014.

3.    Medical Recruitment

Medical recruitment has been prioritised in recent years. For example, between 2008 and 2015 the number of Consultants increased from 2,169 by 567 to 2,776 (a 26% increase) while the number of NCHDs increased from 4,639 by 611 to 5,250 (a 13% increase).

As at 27th January 2015, is estimated that there are 325 Consultant vacancies (excluding psychiatry), 182 of which are covered by locum/agency/temporary appointments. The HSE Service Plan 2015 also provides for an additional 40 new Consultant posts.

Recruitment is a priority and arrangements are in train to recruit Consultants. A joint HSE/Public Service Appointment project team has been appointed to progress the recruitment process.

There is an initial advertisement of approximately 60 permanent approved posts in HSE hospitals and agencies which were previously advertised and not filled.

Advertisement of a further approximately 50 posts in HSE hospitals and agencies is currently in the process of being approved.

4.    EWTD Compliance – NCHDs

Measures are also in train to reduce the working hours for NCHDs and to improve working conditions within their working environment.

Significant progress has been made in eliminating shifts in excess of 24 hours and over 68 hour working weeks.

The level of compliance with the 48 hour working week, 68% at the end of January 2015, has improved significantly in the past two years, having previously been as low as 30%. Ireland has reached near full compliance with the other requirements of the Directive, including the granting of daily breaks, and minimum periods of daily and weekly rest.