Non-EU doctors working in Ireland deserve greater equality as employees of the healthcare system

For decades there has been an ongoing problem with equality and stability within the Irish health care system for international doctors, specifically those from outside the EU.

Currently non-EU doctors make up nearly half of the Irish health system. With many being imported and then exported again to other EU countries because they have no other choice.

The stability of their jobs in Ireland, seems daunting as they make the life-changing decision to arrive in our country after leaving their homeland, family, friends, and their permanent jobs.

After making this huge move, usually alongside their family, they are set up on short, unstable contracts through the Critical Skills Employment Permit (CSEP) which is a permit that issues one to work for duration of two years in a particular country.

If they do stay in Ireland, it can be a difficult experience of visa renewals, finding adequate housing, relocation expenses, registration for medical and finding schools for children.

Even though these non-EU doctors are skilled professionals, they are made work on a General Employment Permit. Which does not allow for their spouse or partner who may also be a qualified professional to work.

At the five-year mark of living in Ireland, non-EU doctors are eligible for residency but by this time they have usually exited the island for neighbouring countries that offer a better life for them.

However, the medics that do decide to stay are faced with huge inequalities in the system, where there is little hope for career growth or further training.

These doctors which make up nearly half of the doctors in the Irish health system get far less for doing the same work. All the supports that medical professionals receive, whether it be career and training, financial or logistical is allocated to the EU doctors over non-EU.

Although unfair, EU doctors that undergo formal training are trained by skilled non-EU doctors at different levels. These Eu doctors from this training can become certified consultants and supervisors of the non-EU doctors who trained them.

You may be thinking ‘why do non-EU doctors come here?’

The Irish medical system needs them more than ever. As Irish people who need these working professionals, we need to push for equality for all.

With Ireland also being a great place to raise a family as the nation ranks above average in terms of education, health, social connections, personal security and well-being, we need to ensure that these things are easily accessible to our non-EU doctors working in Ireland.

Aoife Breslin

Image Credit: Aoife Breslin