An independent investigation by Ireland’s Medical Council if nine Irish hospitals found record numbers of newly qualified doctors are leaving the country because they are treated so badly.
It found: “There are inadequate training supports in place for newly qualified doctors and they are often thrown in at the deep end in terms of learning how to deal with patients and assess situations.
“These negative early experiences are directly encouraging a record number of young Irish qualified doctors to emigrate and bring their skills to a country which offers them a better work environment and a greater opportunity to learn and grow.”
It said there was inadequate supervision of the newly qualified doctors when they were on call and many felt vulnerable and isolated from their senior counterparts. Medical interns were asked to perform duties above their pay grade and seek patients’ consent for procedures with which they were not familiar, the independent inspection found. Some senior doctors refused to write notes in patients’ charts and left this to interns to complete, regardless of whether they had seen the patient or not.
The Irish Medical Organisation (IMO) said that there were 500 consultant posts vacant and the country was facing a shortage of about 1,400, based on posts due to become vacant. It said that the treatment of those at the beginning of their career “exacerbates the manpower crisis”.
At Cork University Hospital interns were frequently asked to seek consent on behalf of senior colleagues.
At Letterkenny University Hospital in Co Donegal interns were not provided with any time for training and there were complaints of bullying.
At Mercy University Hospital in Cork male interns got preferential treatment over female colleagues from nursing staff while on call.
In South Tipperary General Hospital the phone in the emergency department often went to voicemail, meaning interns were unable to contact a senior doctor for advice. At Portiuncula Hospital in Co Galway teamwork between interns and other professionals was “dysfunctional”.
The other hospitals inspected were university hospitals in Sligo, Kerry and Waterford.