The allocation of postgraduate medical training places is based on the application of the Employment Equality Act, 1998 and the EU Directive 2004/38/EC (Free Movement Directive), as part of the national policy of self-sufficiency. The goal of my Department and the HSE is to develop a sustainable medical workforce to staff the health service with the appropriate number of NCHDs in training and consultants to deliver the service. Ireland is committed under the World Health Organization’s Global Code on the Recruitment of International Health Personnel to strive for self-sufficiency with regard to the training and supply of medical specialists.
The policy on the application of EU community preference in the recruitment process for postgraduate medical training places was put in place in 2013 following a request by the Department of Health, supported by the HSE, to support this policy of self-sufficiency. Available specialist training places are allocated by the training bodies in the first instance to those candidates who at the time of application are citizens of Ireland or nationals of another Member State of the European Union. This includes non-EEA nationals who are deemed to be qualifying or permitted family members of nationals of a Member State under the EU Directive 2004/38/EC (Free Movement Directive) as transposed into Irish domestic law, European Communities (Free Movement of Persons) Regulations 2015. S.I. No 548 of 2015 and have been granted the right of residence or permanent residence (i.e., holders of GNIB Stamp 4 EUFAM).
It is recognised that non-EEA nationals play a significant role in the Irish health service and in November 2020 I announced changes to the Medical Practitioners Act 2007, which has removed the barriers faced by some non-EEA doctors in applying to national training programmes. Since November 2020, all doctors who are currently registered in, or have established eligibility for registration in, the General Division of the Medical Council’s register, are now eligible for registration in the Trainee Specialist Division. All EU and non-EEA NCHDs, if they meet the eligibility criteria set out by each postgraduate training body, are eligible to apply to postgraduate medical training programmes.
The HSE has requested a formal review of the current policy on the application of EU community preference to be undertaken with the Department of Health. My Department has agreed to this review which will be undertaken in advance of the commencement of the recruitment process for the July 2022 intake this autumn.