272. Deputy Seán Haughey asked the Minister for Justice and Equality his views on recent changes made to the work permit regime by which a locum doctor can work 90 days in the State but must then leave the jurisdiction for 30 days before being permitted to apply for a new work permit after that; if his attention has been drawn to the fact that it takes up to 30 working days to process a new work permit application resulting in a situation in which a locum doctor ends up working much reduced days annually which puts pressure on general practitioner services generally; his plans to make changes to the work permit regime in view of these circumstances; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26470/19]


Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Charles Flanagan): Atypical immigration permissions are specifically designed to cover short term employments in the State and there are alternative options available for longer term employment through the work permit regime of the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation. Accordingly, it is not intended that a person with an Atypical permission would roll over their permission thus circumventing the work permit regime and for this reason the person concerned is required to leave the State at the end of their permission.
The policy responsibility relating to the use of locum doctors in the Primary Care Sector is primarily a matter for the Health Service Executive (HSE). The role of the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service (INIS) of my Department is to provide immigration mechanisms by which non-EEA medical personnel may be recruited to fill temporary vacancies in the health sector as and when required. I am advised that there have been no amendments made to these terms since they were first published on the INIS website, in July 2015.
Under the terms of the current arrangements doctors undertaking locum work may be granted a ‘block’ 90-day permission for the duration of their 90-day contract. Exit from and re-entry into the State is not permitted during this 90-day period. The terms of the Scheme also state that at least one month must elapse from the expiry date of the 90 day permission before a new application may be made.
All applicants for the Atypical Working Scheme are advised that they must allow a minimum of 20 working days for the processing of their application from date of receipt. The average processing time for all applications made under the Atypical Working Scheme are processed in accordance with this 20 working day commitment. In cases where an application is submitted containing incomplete, inaccurate or insufficient information, or when clarification of matters raised is required, delays to this processing time are inevitable while awaiting a response from an applicant.