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Medical Council Introduces New Rules on Professional Competence

Wednesday 19th January:

Medical Council Introduces New Rules on Professional Competence

Scheme Modernises and Strengthens Regulation of Medical Profession

The Medical Council has agreed new rules around the maintenance of professional competence by registered medical practitioners.  These rules agreed by the Medical Council yesterday (18th January 2011) will underpin the operation of professional competence schemes for doctors which will come into effect from May 2011.

The new professional competence system requires doctors to engage in activity which will help them to keep their knowledge and skills up-to-date and to manage the quality and safety of care they provide.  The system will be straightforward, practice-based, and focused on driving good professional practice. Doctors currently engage in activities to maintain their competence and this new system makes these arrangements formal with oversight from the Medical Council.   

The Medical Council involved the public, profession and other stakeholders in the development of these rules.  They were initially published in draft form in October 2010 and consultation followed.  All comments received were considered by the Medical Council and taken into account prior to making these rules today.

Professor Kieran Murphy, President of the Medical Council, said today that: “The Medical Council aims to protect the public by promoting and ensuring the highest professional standards amongst doctors.  We are pleased to make these rules which establish a robust system to allow doctors to maintain their professional competence throughout their professional lives”.

“The rules will underpin the Medical Council’s oversight of how doctors maintain and develop their knowledge and skills. They modernise and strengthen the way doctors are regulated in Ireland and ensure our arrangements are in line with other jurisdictions.  This new system allows the Medical Council to better safeguard the public and provides greater support for doctors in their continued pursuit of good professional practice.” 

Dr Paul Kavanagh, Head of Professional Competence at the Medical Council, explained: “Once doctors have finished training, maintaining competence is fundamental for good professional practice.  The formalisation of the professional development already undertaken by doctors is an important step forward in maintaining trust between the public and doctors, safeguarding patients, enhancing the quality of healthcare and promoting medical professionalism.  

“As we finalise arrangements for May 2011, we will be providing doctors with more detailed guidance to help them to confidently navigate this straightforward system which is based on their day-to-day practice with patients and focused on driving good professional practice”, added Dr. Kavanagh.

The key element of the system for maintenance of professional competence is the establishment of structures known as professional competence schemes.  Doctors will be required to enroll in these schemes to maintain their professional competence.  The Medical Council will be assisted in operating these structured by education and training bodies, which will be formally recognized for these purpose against criteria specified in these rules.

The new rules describe how the Medical Council will establish professional competence schemes and set out the requirements for registered medical practitioners.  The new system will be operational for May 2011.  Practical guidance will issue before May which will describe in detail how the system will operate. 

The rules can be read by clicking here.

Ends

 For further information contact:
Ciara McMorrow, Corporate Services
Telephone: +353 1 4983153
Email: cmcmorrow@mcirl.ie