Everyone’s missing out: Unemployed Indian doctors in the midst of Covid-19 in Ireland

Apoorva Gopinath

March 2020- Covid-19 was just beginning to become news headlines all over the world. Every country was thrown into turmoil, facing a new and deadly virus. Shutting the world down was the only option in front of governments till they worked with healthcare professionals and scientists to gather more information about the virus.

Everything was at a standstill except for the health services. Every able health care professional had to work extremely hard and stepped up their duty towards their profession and the people in distress.

Amidst the melee, all exams stood cancelled. The focus here is on the PRES 3 examination which is a mandatory examination needed to be taken by Non-EU trained IMG doctors to get the Irish medical council registration. IMGs play a significant role in supporting the Ireland healthcare system and many wanted to join the fight against the virus when hospitals were being overwhelmed. But the cancellation of exams put a full stop to these plans, and still remains so 1.5 years on.

Once the public and the government got to know more about the disease and the measures needed to control it, several avenues opened up with precautionary measures in place. Medical schools started in-person classes and Royal College exams were being conducted as well. The doctors who had to take the PRES 3 though were still kept waiting.

Staying in a foreign country without a source of income makes it extremely difficult to survive, and being doctors, it was a hopeless situation. Without the necessary registration, they could not work as doctors, nor could they take employment in any healthcare role such as vaccinator, clinical contact tracers in spite of being ready to participate. Some even had to take up jobs in shops and stores which is a whole world away from their actual profession.

There were several instances where these doctors had informed about their condition to the Irish medical council and even the government via different avenues. A positive reply is still awaited. While other countries moved quickly to take in qualified doctors by recognising alternative examinations and conducting online examinations, the IMC has not taken any step towards this yet.

While waiting since almost two years, many doctors have travelled to different countries by getting those respective registrations as a last resort, while their immediate families remain in Ireland.

This group of doctors have been waiting patiently for a long time and it wouldn’t be long until they lose the hope. What they need is some kind of communication regarding the start of exams from the IMC, since they seem to be silent even now, when the country is gradually returning to normalcy. Don’t these doctors deserve a response and moreover, doesn’t Ireland need the support of these doctors?

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