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Non-EU doctors can now apply for trainee schemes

As per the updated legislation foreign doctors with internships previously not recognised by the Irish Medical Council will now be able to apply for trainee specialist schemes. Legislation was signed into law this week.

The Regulated Professions (Health and Social Care) amendment Bill 2019 was made into law by president Michael D Higgins on Wednesday after completing its passage through the Oireachtas last week.

The bill comprises amendments to the Medical Practitioners Act which means that expert medical qualifications acquired abroad will now be recognised when doctors apply for further training.

 Before the legislative change, the Irish Medical Council only recognised non-EU internships from Australia, Malaysia, New Zealand, Pakistan, Sudan, South Africa, the UK and Malta.

Non-EEA doctors who had trained in other countries and worked in Irish hospitals were not eligible for trainee schemes to become consultants or general practitioners.

Professional medical training programmes are presently allocated with first favourites being Irish citizens followed by EU nationals. If any places are left, they’re offered to eligible candidates from outside the EU.

In an article published in the Irish Times last week, a number of Pakistani doctors, who were already eligible to apply for training schemes, warned that entry into the programmes remains extremely difficult because of the preference system.

Dr Ehtasham Yousaf, a paediatric registrar who has been working in Ireland since 2015 and is now based at St Luke’s Hospital in Kilkenny, told this paper he had been endlessly downcast from applying for specialist training and claims alternate career progression pathways which previously existed for those unable to secure a place on these courses have been blocked off.

“My target is to be a consultant, I don’t want to be a registrar for another 10 years,” said Dr Yousaf. “But nobody facilitates or guides us in our training. You can’t get on to the Basic Specialist Training or High Specialist Training because of the preference system.” Dr Ehtasham Yousaf said.

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