Medical Council News


Medical Council survey highlights doctors' commitment to lifelong learning

8th March 2011

Medical Council survey highlights doctors' commitment to lifelong learning

Access to supports key to doctors’ ability to maintain professional competence

The Medical Council today (8th March) released the results of a survey measuring doctors’ knowledge, attitudes and behaviour in relation to maintenance of professional competence.  From May 2011, all registered medical practitioners will be legally obliged to enrol in professional competence schemes and follow requirements set by the Medical Council.

The study of 490 doctors was conducted in late 2010 and found that:

  • 99% believe that lifelong learning is the professional responsibility of all medical practitioners, while 91% stated they were aware of their new statutory duties to maintain professional competence. 
  • 96% said they were confident that they will meet requirements to maintain professional competence. 
  • The key factors which they believe will influence their ability to maintain professional competence are support from employers, ability to find time to complete activities and access to professional development supports. 
  • Although it is not yet a legal obligation, the majority of doctors undertake activities to further their knowledge and develop their skills.  Over half of those surveyed (51%), currently spend in excess of €1,000 each year on their continuing professional development.

Speaking today, President of the Medical Council Professor Kieran Murphy said:  “Professional competence schemes are being introduced to enhance patient safety and will help maintain and build the trust underlying the patient-doctor relationship.  We know that the majority of doctors already engage in the maintainance of professional competence and the establishment of these new schemes largely formalise existing arrangements. We have shown that doctors are confident in their ability to fulfil their new statutory duty to maintain professional competence and collaboration among a range of stakeholders will be key to ensuring that this is a seamless process.  The Medical Council is working closely with postgraduate training bodies and employers to ensure that schemes are straightforward and drive good professional practice, while placing a minimal additional financial burden on doctors.”

Professional competence schemes will be operated by postgraduate training bodies and doctors are required to enrol in a scheme relevant to their area of practice. Just 42% of those surveyed were aware of the types and amounts of activities that will be required once they are enrolled in a professional competence scheme.

CEO of the Medical Council, Ms Caroline Spillane added:   “It’s important that all doctors are aware of their statutory obligation to maintain their professional competence and register for schemes which are relevant to their day-to-day practice.  This survey shows that while the vast majority of doctors are aware of their new duty, many are not clear on the types of activities that they will be required to engage in.  The Medical Council will issue detailed guidance to doctors in the coming months so that all doctors are aware of their individual requirements in advance of the launch of schemes in May.”

The Medical Council will host a conference entitled ‘Maintaining Competence, Maintaining Trust’ on 8th April in Croke Park, at which a range of Irish and international speakers will speak on the subject of professional competence.

Following a programme of communication with registrants in the first half of 2011, the survey will be repeated to ensure that awareness levels of the new statutory duties improve.


For further information contact:
Lorna Farren - Medical Council, Communications Manager – Professional Competence
Telephone: +353 1 4983173