In response to a question on vacancies in the health services, she said many qualified people like to travel but she hoped they would return to Ireland once they had “got the travel bug out of their system”.
The Organisation warned today that, unless urgent action is taken, “further emigration will bleed this country dry of talented and skilled medical practitioners”.
Dr John Duddy, Vice President of the IMO, said: “These remarks show a complete lack of understanding and respect for our doctors who have no choice but to leave this country. The research states quite clearly why doctors are leaving but the Government fails time and time again to address these issues.
“Doctors want, need and deserve better working conditions, structured and effective training to further their skills and abilities and the opportunity to practice in a functioning health system that respects its employees and puts patients first. Instead they get a health service which blatantly disrespects their ability and dedication so they are forced to seek opportunities abroad.”
He added: “The travel bug is a smoke screen. The reality is doctors are leaving our shores and are not coming back. The Government is deluded in hoping doctors working abroad will return to Ireland. They need to recognise and act on the root causes of why doctors are leaving the Irish health system, otherwise matters will just get worse.”
The IMO pointed out that there are almost 300 vacant consultant posts in this country and, where these are being filled, the majority are by locum doctors.
Furthermore, Medical Council research published this year reported that only 22 per cent of trainees said they would definitely stay in Ireland.
RCSI research had outlined the reasons for emigration as being general disrespect from the HSE, working conditions, training and career progression.