Record level of GPs registered in Ireland

More doctors than ever before registered with the Medical Council of Ireland last year, the regulator announced yesterday, with nearly 40% of these doctors coming from abroad.

A total of 20,473 doctors registered with the Medical Council of Ireland in 2015. That is an increase of 7.5% from 2014. In 2008, when the Medical Council began to look at these figures, 17,741 doctors were on the register.

Some 37.9% of the doctors who registered last year trained in other countries. However, the number increases for specific specialties. Some 57.8% of doctors working in the area of obstetrics and gynaecology in 2015 trained abroad, while the figure was 55.9% in the area of emergency medicine.

Compared with other countries, Ireland has one of the highest numbers of foreign-trained doctors in the workforce, coming in fourth out of the 26 OECD countries.

The number of Irish medical school graduates aged under 30 leaving the register — most often to work abroad increased — in 2015 to 6.4%, up from 5.5% in 2014.

One in five trainee doctors told the Medical Council they do not intend to practice medicine in Ireland. Of these, 32% plan to work in Britain, while 24% plan to work in Canada. Some 18% plan to go to Australia, while 12% plan to work in the US. New Zealand is the preferred destination for 6%.

The research found that older trainees, aged between 35 and 39, are most likely to leave, while younger trainees, aged 20 to 24 are most likely to remain in the country.

The Medical Council received 369 complaints against doctors in 2015, an increase of 19%. Some 151 of these complaints related to communication.

Bill Prasifka, CEO of the Medical Council, said

the increase in the number of complaints is in line with increased activity in the profession: “Our annual report, as a whole, is pointing to increased activity levels across the entire work of the council.”

Mr Prasifka pointed to the Medical Council’s increased capacity in 2015 to register doctors: “There’s been a huge amount of investment in our processes, and it’s coming through in the work we’re doing.”

The number of women in the profession stood at 41.1% in 2015, just slightly down from 41.2% in 2014. About half of women said they wish to work part-time, while an overwhelming majority of men wanted to remain working full-time in their careers.

Simon O’Hare, a researcher for one of the reports launched yesterday at the Medical Council’s headquarters in Dublin, said the body needs to figure out how it can support women and help them remain in the profession, even on a part-time basis.

The number of general practitioners varied widely among the counties. Galway, had the highest density of GPs, with 68 per 100,000 people. Cork, Waterford, Limerick, and Westmeath each had 61 GPs per 100,000. Dublin had 55, while Leitrim, with only 34 GPs per 100,000 people, had the fewest.

Vital statistics

¦ 369 complaints received about doctors;

¦ 20% of trainee doctors do not intend to practice here,

¦ Galway has highest proportion of GPs, while Leitrim has the fewest;

¦ 51% of new entrants to the register were under 30.


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