Over €80k spent on housing foreign doctors

OVER €80,000 has been spent since July on housing 266 junior doctors recruited from India and Pakistan — almost half of whom have since been unable to register for hospital work due to red tape.

The figures, confirmed by Health Minister James Reilly, show that the significant cost has been accrued by taxpayers in just three months.

In a Dáil parliamentary question response to Denis Naughten, Dr Reilly said €80,709 has already been spent on housing these junior doctor recruits in B&Bs throughout Dublin.

However, the total figure is likely to be higher as no figures for the other HSE regions are available.

According to the official health service statistics, just 150 of the 266 junior doctors — who were asked to come to Ireland to help fill chronic staff shortages in hospitals — have passed through all administrative, registration and documentation issues since arriving in July.

Thirty of the doctors still waiting to be registered did not pass Medical Council of Ireland exams to test their standards.

While the Indian and Pakistani physicians are not paid until they start their work, they have been provided B&B accommodation and given a small food allowance.

Many of the doctors — a large number of whom have alleged they were not told of the possibility of delays in work and that the contracts they were offered are different to those they received — have said they are running out of money.

As previously reported in the Irish Examiner, the HSE sent 36 personnel on the 10-day India and Pakistan recruitment drive in May, a visit which cost the taxpayer €113,768.

The figure included €44,913 on accommodation and transfers, €37,866 on flights, €21,008 on hiring meeting rooms and business centres, and €9,913 on meals.

Dr Reilly has said the recruitment drive will, in the medium term, result in “significant pay savings” for the taxpayer.

This is because it is likely to lead to a large reduction in the amount of overtime and agency worker expenditure to the state, he said.

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