June 3, 2024
Government must increase medical school places for Irish applicants – David Cullinane TD

Sinn Féin spokesperson on Health, David Cullinane TD, has called on the government, the Minister for Further and Higher Education, and the Minister for Health to increase medical school places for CAO and Graduate Entry applicants.

Teachta Cullinane was commenting on the fact that half of current medical school places are sold to international students.

He said that medical schools clearly have capacity to train more Irish doctors, but that the government has not funded those places for Irish applicants.

He said that Sinn Féin has outlined Alternative Budget proposals to achieve this, including funding an increase in internship and postgraduate specialist training places.

The TD for Waterford called on the government to implement a joined-up workforce plan for the health service, adding that the recruitment embargo was preventing the recruitment of junior doctors and wider nursing and allied healthcare professionals to support new consultant posts.

He added that recruitment and retention is made more difficult by the housing crisis.

Teachta Cullinane said:

“It is deeply frustrating that this government has not rebalanced the availability of medical school places to train more Irish doctors. The government, the Minister for Further and Higher Education, and the Minister for Health should increase the number of medical school places for CAO and Graduate Entry applicants.

“Irish medical schools clearly have the capacity to train more Irish doctors, but the government has not funded those places for Irish applicants. As a result, medical schools are selling these places to international students. International students are more than welcome to study and work in Ireland, but the priority of the Irish Government should be to secure as many places as necessary for Irish students.

“By not funding more public places for Irish students, the government continues to rely on international recruitment of doctors. Instead, it should and could be training a sustainable domestic supply. In our Alternative Budgets, Sinn Féin has outlined funding proposals to achieve this, including an increase in undergraduate, internship, and postgraduate specialist training places.

“The recruitment embargo is also preventing the recruitment of junior doctors and wider staffing which are needed to work with and support new consultant posts. Currently, the HSE can recruit consultants, but not the vital staff which form the teams that work with them. The recruitment embargo must be lifted. This situation is exacerbated by the housing and cost of living crisis, which is making recruitment and retention of junior doctors, nurses, and AHSCPs in our cities very difficult.

“The government should implement a joined-up workforce plan for the health service, including but extending beyond more training places for Irish doctors. We need more nurses, but also physiotherapists, radiographers, speech and language therapists, dentists, and graduates across most allied health and social care professions.

“There has been no movement from government to increase places in a coordinated way that matches the Health Service’s future workforce needs.”

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