Graduate Irish doctors tempted to stay by tax breaks

Published:  11 Aug at 6 PM
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In a desperate move to stop the majority of Irish medical professionals leaving for better-paid jobs overseas, the government is being urged to cut an impressive tax deal with newly-graduated doctors.

A detailed proposal from two Irish government departments, Finance and Health, is being closely scrutinised for inclusion in the country’s 2015 budget. The move follows the continuing migration of a huge number of doctors, nurses and other health professionals to the UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.

The five million euro per year tax deal is said to involve new graduates’ university fee repayments, a cause of anger amongst new entrants to the medical profession after salaries were cut and opportunities limited across the board. In general terms, the state is being urged to write off payments of interest on the loans against income tax payable by newly qualified doctors on the Graduate Entry Programme (GEP).

The GEP was set up eight years ago to encourage the retraining of suitable applicants for the medical profession. However, living costs added to annual student fees of €16,000 forced the majority of graduate students to take out loans of up to €100,000 in order to complete their studies.

Student financial support must be paid back in full, including interest, within 10 years of graduation at a cost of approximately €1178 per month. Starting salaries for newly graduated doctors are within the range of €2114 p.a. net, leaving many with no choice but to emigrate to countries offering higher pay and better job prospects and threatening the survival of the Irish health service.
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