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Demand Dozens of junior doctors flee Ireland for Australia to seek better working conditions

The IMO said scale of departures of non-consultant hospital doctors from the Irish health system would be 'unprecedented'

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Hospital staff on a Covid-19 ward. STOCK

Hospital staff on a Covid-19 ward. STOCK

Hospital staff on a Covid-19 ward. STOCK

Dozens of junior doctors are leaving Ireland for Perth, Western Australia (WA) as they seek better working conditions, it has emerged. 

It has been revealed in Australian media that more than 200 junior doctors from the United Kingdom and Ireland are set to start work in the state as the health system there struggles to keep up with demand.

WA Health Minister Roger Cook said the doctors would be dispersed throughout the health network to work at public and private metropolitan hospitals.

And in a bid to attract even more health workers, the government has announced new incentives for international midwives, nurses and doctors, including paying for their hotel quarantine and flights.

Mr Cook said the government would offer $5,000 (3,1250 euro) for flights and relocation costs, and it will cover the $3,000 (1,875 euro) bill for two weeks of mandatory hotel quarantine.

"We don't pretend that will cover everyone's costs of relocation, but we do believe it will be an important incentive to assist them to come home," Mr Cook said.

The spend is part of a $1.9 billion (1.18 billion euro) effort to bolster the health system, set to appear in September's state budget.

“We hope they come for six months or 12 months to spend a good deal of time experiencing the great Western Australian lifestyle and the opportunities that working in our great hospital system provides,” Mr Cook said.

“We’re also trying to lure those who are overseas at the moment and want to come back home.”

With flights to Australia at times costing tens of thousands of dollars, Mr Cook conceded the $5,000 relocation fee would not cover the entire cost of moving to WA to work but said it would be a good incentive regardless.

In March of this year, the Irish Medical Organisation (IMO) warned that as many as 600 non-consultant hospital doctors could leave the Irish health system during the summer to work abroad.

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The IMO said that fewer non-consultant hospital doctors in the system would mean more work and pressure on those that remained.

It said that in recent months there had been growing disquiet among these doctors about their working conditions.

The number of intern positions available was also expected to decrease over the summer having been increased a year ago to help resource hospitals to deal with the initial outbreak of Covid-19.

The IMO said this scale of departures of non-consultant hospital doctors from the Irish health system this summer would be “unprecedented”.

Non-consultant hospital doctors typically rotate their jobs on a six-monthly basis to gain experience in different specialities and hospitals.

The vice-chair of the IMO’s non-consultant hospital doctor committee, Dr Gabriel Beecham, said this group of doctors was “being squeezed on a number of fronts”.

“On the one hand, there are going to be fewer places for early-career doctors to work, as the HSE is reducing the available places for interns and is making basic specialist training even more selective," Dr Beecham said.

"On the other hand, non-consultant hospital doctors are questioning the wisdom of staying in Ireland, given the long working hours and the chronic manpower problems in the health services here.”

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