More than 80% of trainee doctors have said that working conditions, training opportunities, and work-life balance are factors that would influence their decision to leave Ireland, according to new Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland (RCSI) research
The survey published today in the Human Resources for Health journal also found that almost one fifth of the 523 doctors who took part in the survey had already left Ireland between 2014 and 2016 to practice medicine abroad.
More than a fifth (22%) of those still here said that they would definitely or probably leave, while the same number were undecided and only 18% were definitely staying.
However, more than 80% believed that working conditions and training opportunities were better abroad.
Professor Ruairi Brugha, who led the study, said: "The chronic haemorrhage of doctors from Ireland will continue as long as we undervalue them. Unless sufficient resources are invested in providing specialist training to the doctors after they have graduated medical school, employing them in adequately staffed hospitals with comparable training and working conditions to what are on offer in other countries, we will continue to lose those who are the life blood of our health system.
"In-depth interviews with 50 doctors also threw further light on the stresses doctors experienced in having to make important decisions about patients, while not having sufficient access to consultants.
"They also talked of the lack of structured training, where the demands of delivering a service to patients in under-staffed hospitals crowded out their training needs.
Taken together, the survey and the interviews show that insufficient frontline staff in our hospitals, reported by over 80% as a reason for leaving Ireland, was impacting on these doctors’ need for supervised training."
A report published earlier this year by the RCSI’s Health Workforce Research Group found that Ireland now produces sufficient medical graduates to meet its needs.
It found that in 2015, two thirds of those taking up medical registration in Ireland for the first time had graduated outside Ireland, with a doubling of the numbers coming from outside the EU.
Most of these were being employed to fill non-training posts, the numbers of which had risen at a four times greater rate than training posts.