Wednesday, 30 June 2010

Medicine in Ireland - an ennobling profession.

Some maintain that medicine is a noble profession. Well, in dear old Ireland it is more like an ennobling one, given the great financial rewards enjoyed by its practitioners.

Why else would it consistently be the vocation that requires the most CAO points each year?
1) Because we Irish are caring people who leave Florence Nightingale in the ha'penny place.  We desperately want to help our fellow man / woman.
2) Because you get paid a shitload of money for it.

       Now, now. Which of you cynics replied “1”?

Only last week I had to fight back the tears when I read that a doctor’s investment property was being repossessed. AIB had advanced the medic the princely sum of €1,650,000 in February 2007 for the house which was “close to the family home”.  The mortgage was to be repaid by progressively increasing monthly installments ranging from €5,600 to just under €11,000 according an Irish Times report.

Well, so much for intelligence then. I can clearly date the sudden dawning of reality in the Irish property market – “the crash” I think they call it – back to September 2006, when Michael McDowell started talking about abolishing stamp duty.  And like a particularly crazy wall of death ride, once the participants stopped for a second to reflect on what they were doing, they promptly fell to Earth.  By February 2007, that particular sideshow had long left town.

But the medical profession is one of Ireland’s great cartels, and it is predictable that when the Government made a big show of introducing wholesale deregulation, in the form of hitting the taxi drivers, Ireland’s professional classes continued their market-rigging unmolested.

A friend of the blog emailed a piece that appeared, again in the Times, last week. It referred to a 2009 OECD report which found that the Irish medical profession controlled entry to the market to keep fees artificially high, a process that begins right from the inadequate number of places available at medical college.  It found a correlation between the high incomes acquired by doctors and the fact that the number of doctors per 1,000 of population in Ireland was only 60% that of most other European countries.

The same study found that Irish hospital consultants were even “more successful than GPs in restricting competition, which has resulted in many of them earning incomes which are up to four times the average earnings of consultants in other EU countries.”

Allied to all this are various other restrictions on qualified doctors from abroad becoming GPs here, with the Irish College of General Practitioners still "considering" a proposal by the Competition Authority to allow doctors with appropriate hospital experience to enter the GP clinic phase of training directly.

Of course, while all this racketeering is going on, we have people who are dying because they cannot get MRI scans and subsequent early intervention that cancer patients in other countries take for granted.  We have people who are being told their babies are dead when they are very much alive. We have cystic fibrosis patients who are told that there are no isolation wards. We have people who are seemingly paid too much to qualify for medical cards but yet cannot afford doctors' extortionate fees, and who put off going as a result. 

As usual, it's everday life - and death - in Ireland.

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Anonymous said...

this is a tragic tragedy GM

Anonymous said...

Yep, thats the way it is. Welcome to Ireland 2010 style. Its a grand place? Oh...just dont get ill!!

In an aside GM, oh yes, try to change anything, GM and make it better, such as the health "service" - or anything else for that matter - and you'll get the same rabid response from vested interest groups; as was clearly demonstrated in the reaction to the two Animal Welfare Bills. Where else would you get an all out war by grown men and women, determined to protect their rights to chase an unfortunate, detrified farmed deer around the countryside? Just so they can dress up like English toffs?Where?..... And think its grand? Where would you get it??? All of this when unfortunate individuals are left for days - yes days!! - on hospital trowleys, (there isn't a wimper from the same backbenchers to the collapse in the health service, not to mention the endless list of other things WRONG in this nation) mad scanning machines, etc etc etc etc....... Ohhh its a grand country....Ouhhh grand....


The Gombeen Man said...

Yes Dakota. I often wonder how so many gormless idiots in this place can be so patriotic. What are they so proud of, I wonder? Gobshites.

On the hunting thing - I think Labour's performance has been a disgrace. It doesn't augur well for any new government, does it?

Anonymous said...

Patriotic? Yeah theres alot of them patriotic here alright, when money arrives on the scene, then "they'll" be whatever you want them to be.

GM, Labour, a disgrace, thats putting it mildly! If any party should have supported these Bills it was them. Very very sad.


anna said...

The most famous comments of them all ( about 6 yrs ago) - picked up with astonishment by the German ambassador was when Mary Harney offered Irish hospital consultants 250,000 a year- and they contemptuously rejected it as ‘Mickey mouse’ money.
Here are a few small factoids:
*My workmate had an Egyptian surgeon on her street in Castleknock- he worked in Scotland and came backto his family in Castle knock at the weekend: UK had NO problem recognising his qualifications- somehow they weren’t good enough for Ireland.
I also met a Sudanese doctor, recently arrived here- who had been put on pay of around 400 a week, (this was 4 yrs ago) as his qualifications were not being recognised.
*About 5 yrs ago the no of training places was increased: BUT up till then ROI had the SAME No as - NI. NI has 1/3 the population.
*Recently qualified UK GP earns about 60,000 pounds
*Of course if you can’t get in to medical school here- a rich family can afford to send you to USA- I am often amazed to see so many medical certs from USA on doctors walls here. So too bad if you are a working class student whose parents can’t afford to send him to the states.
* OF Course the medial profession here needs a huge shake up- they can demand what they like as many work for ‘private’ Catholic Church run hospitals: On that note why are these hospitals Still in church hands? Why does the criminal assets bureau not put them under a CPO and buy them for 1 euro each- to pay for all the compensation they have caused the state?
In the novel ‘Amongst women’ the tyrant dad stops his daughter Sheila, in the 60’s from becoming a doctor. And why? because the dad, felt that since the creaiton of the state- that he had fought to set up- the doctors had risen as a Powerful caste to rule over everyone. The Reverse happened in the UK- I think attempts to found the NHS, in the 1940’s were initially resisted by powerful doctors groups- then they mostly fell in line.
And John Mc Gahern was a man who could really look into his heart and know what Irish people really felt, even if they could not articulate it as well as he could.
Yes the Irish medical profession are a Disgrace.
After all you never hear them worrying too much about health of patients - but always about their pay.

anna said...

I did see that article in the IT: Among other things it mentioned that doctors here rigorously stopped each other from advertising as if they did their fees would drop due to competition
The stand out fact in it for me was this:
Complaints are made to the Irish medical council ( as is also usual in other countries) about treatment people had got from their doctors.
Did the Irish medical council investigate them? No it seems- not one: BUT the Irish medical council Zealously and Rigorously followed up Every complaint it received about doctors advertising. Really says it all.

Ponyboy O'Reilly said...

Nice one GM - that's Frank Burns at the 4077th if I'm not mistaken....Suicide is painless LA LA LA LA many changes but LA LA take or leave it la la la.

Anonymous said...

OK, first of all: I really like Ireland, otherwise I wouldn't live here.
But, if I ever suffer from something other then a broken finger, I get on a plane and fly to a country with something that deserves the term "health care system". The waiting times are just a joke and the state of the medical devices is so very 1980s.

The Gombeen Man said...

@Ponyboy. I'd say a his patients probably enjoyed better conditions than some of the poor buggers lying on trollies for days on end here!

@ Anon. I can well understand that. You have something to compare our health system too - and it's simply not good enough. Many people here know no better, unfortunately.