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High reliance on international graduates — workforce report

09 Aug 2013

By Lloyd Mudiwa.

Ireland had a heavy reliance on international medical graduates to meet its health workforce needs, the Medical Council has said.

A report on the annual registration retention survey of 2012, published by Kingram House last week, showed the proportion of international graduates in the workforce has stood at around 35 per cent for the past five years, one of the highest in the OECD region.

This was cause for concern because the Council found that doctors who qualified outside Ireland were more likely to exit its Register.

Compared with Irish-trained graduates, they might be a less sustainable sector of the medical workforce, given their higher rates of exit from the Register and practice outside Ireland.

The regulatory body acknowledged individual rights to free movement should be recognised and that migration could make a sound and fair contribution to the medical workforce of a destination country, if it was carefully planned and managed.

“However, any policy of active recruitment of international medical graduates into the Irish health system needs careful appraisal to ensure effectiveness and efficiency objectives are achieved, in particular where such a policy is necessitated to counteract a failure to retain recent medical graduates,” the workforce intelligence report stated.

“Achieving more self-sufficiency through retaining domestically-developed doctors is likely to be a more favourable approach to medium- and longer-term medical workforce planning from the perspective of sustainability and best use of resources.”

The intelligence in relation to representation in training and specialism also raised questions about professional development opportunities for international graduates and the fairness of active recruitment policies.

“Heavy reliance on international graduates also has the potential to bring in its wake global ethical issues, especially where active recruitment policies exacerbate health system challenges in countries facing critical shortages of human resources for health. In Ireland, almost one-in-three international graduates retaining registration in Ireland — 10 per cent of all doctors — were from countries identified by the WHO as having critical shortages of human resources for health.”

9 August 2013

Click here to view the full article which appeared in Irish Medical Times