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Minister Launches the Medical Council's Your Training Counts Report on Career Intentions

Minister for Health Leo Varadkar, has today (15th of October) launched the Medical Council’s third Your Training Counts report which focuses on the career intentions of trainee doctors, along with the 2015 Medical Workforce Intelligence report, which provides a detailed overview of doctors’ practice in Ireland, and includes data on the number of doctors in each specialty practising in Ireland.

Speaking at the launch, the Minister said: “Doctors in training are the future of our health service. It’s essential that their voices are heard. Their concerns should be at the centre of all decisions about medical education and training. The Your Training Counts report and the Medical Workforce Intelligence report provide vital information for me as Minister and will help the Department’s ongoing efforts to encourage Irish-trained doctors to choose Ireland. I want to commend the Medical Council for its work in this area.
“There are more doctors in Ireland than at any point in the past ten years with 300 additional consultant and 1,000 NCHD posts created since the Government came to office in 2011. Nonetheless, we are struggling to fill consultant posts in many hospitals and fewer Irish-trained doctors are coming back to Ireland than in the past. I want this to change. The Government is now acting by making posts financially attractive again through new pay scales that recognise experience and higher qualifications, reductions in taxes and the pension levy, by reducing working hours and by implementing the MacCraith Report.

“The colleges and training bodies also need to act by giving doctors in training more certainty about their rotations, taking into account that couples do not want to be separated and ensuring that they get protected training time. It is evident from this survey that those most likely to leave have had a bad experience during training and many describe being bullied by other or senior staff. Doctors in training need to be treated with respect and courtesy by everyone working in our health service. We have invested a lot in them and they should be seen as assets not workhorses. I am encouraged that younger doctors are more likely to say that they see their future in Ireland and I hope that is reflective of some of the changes made in recent years.”

Speaking about the report findings, President of the Medical Council Professor Freddie Wood said: “The Medical Workforce Intelligence report provides us with doctor exit rates and information on the practice arrangements of all doctors in Ireland, while the Your Training Counts report gives us an insight into the career intentions of trainees and the reasons why certain doctors are planning to leave. While there has been much speculation on this issue, it is welcome to now have a strong and clear evidence base as to why these doctors are opting to leave medical practice in Ireland. These findings will inform the work of postgraduate medical training bodies, employers and policy makers as part of a system-wide focus on retaining as many Irish-qualified doctors as possible.”
CEO of the Medical Council, Bill Prasifka, also commented on the report findings saying: “The robust evidence that has emerged from these reports helps to clarify critical challenges facing medical education and training in Ireland. While we may have expected younger doctors to be more interested in working abroad, in fact the data is showing that it is doctors over the age of 35 who are most likely to indicate their intention to leave.”

Findings in the reports include:

  • Over one-in-five (21%) trainees intended to either ‘definitely not’ or ‘probably not’ practise medicine in Ireland for the foreseeable future. 54% intend to practise medicine in Ireland for the foreseeable future, with a further one in four (25%) undecided. 
  • Trainees who were frequently bullied in post were twice as likely as those who were never bullied to express an intention to leave medical practice in Ireland; 
  • Trainees on higher specialist training programmes (years 4-6) were most likely to say they did not intend to practise in Ireland for the foreseeable future (30%), compared to 14% of Registrars, and 14% of those in GP training. 
  • Older trainees (aged 35-39) and trainees in certain specialties (Radiology, Anaesthesia, Psychiatry and Medicine) were most likely to want to leave medical practice in Ireland. Doctors training in Occupational Medicine, Pathology and Paediatrics were most likely to indicate their intention to practise in Ireland for the foreseeable future. 
  • Trainees that had an illness, health problem, or disability that limited their daily activity were twice as likely than other trainees to express an intention to not practise in Ireland for the foreseeable future; 
  • Trainees who intended to leave medical practice in Ireland reported lower wellbeing, poorer quality of life and worse health than trainees who intended to stay; 
  • Male trainees (25%) were more likely than females (18%) to state an intent to not practise in Ireland for the foreseeable future; 
  • In total, across all age groups 41% of doctors on the register are women. Among doctors under 35, 56% are women; 
  • Galway, Cork, Waterford and Westmeath had the highest density of General Practitioners per 100,000 of the population, with Longford, Kilkenny and Monaghan having the lowest.

Mr Prasifka continued: “It is now becoming clear that trainee doctors are not just leaving for a ‘gap year’ but are prompted to leave by their experience of the clinical learning environment in the Irish health system, including the culture of bullying. The Medical Council is committed to doing everything it can to ensure that our health service offers doctors in training good places to work and learn and are looking to partner organisations to do the same so that we can secure the future of the health system in Ireland.”


View infographics here:

Who is in the Irish Medical Workforce?

Why are trainee doctors leaving Ireland?