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First year of Professional Competence requirements comes to an end

Message from the President of the Medical Council, Professor Kieran Murphy.

We are fast approaching the first anniversary of the introduction of formal professional competence requirements. Doctors now have a legal obligation to keep their knowledge and skills up-to-date throughout their professional lives and by April 30th doctors will have completed their first year in a professional competence scheme. Given our focus on good professional practice, the introduction of formal professional competence requirements for doctors provides a vital link for the Council with doctors’ continuing professional development.

Doctors have a professional responsibility to act in the best interests of their patients. Trust is at the heart of the patient-doctor relationship and it is essential that patients trust in their doctor’s ability to treat them competently and safely.  Guided by what is in the best interests of our patients, maintenance of professional competence helps to ensure the continuing quality of our practice and gives patients confidence that our knowledge and skills are continuously updated. Participation in a formal scheme allows doctors to prove to our patients that we are committed to lifelong learning.

While maintenance of professional competence should follow requirements set by the Medical Council, flexibility is a key component in the structuring of these activities. For example, to fulfil their Maintenance of Knowledge and Skills requirement, doctors can participate in seminars, relevant education courses or attend professional meetings. Practice Evaluation and Development activities could include chart reviews, case presentations or peer review meetings. Personal Learning activities could involve reading medical publications.

The Medical Council has recently embarked on a campaign to remind doctors of their legal responsibility to maintain their professional competence in order to ensure that we are all prepared for the end of the first 12-month period of the schemes. Following this, the Medical Council will then activate monitoring and audit processes which will give assurance to both the public and the profession that the system is working effectively.

It is critical that doctors understand that professional competence is mandatory and that any doctor ignoring this legal responsibility could face a range of sanctions including prohibitions on their right to practise.

If doctors have maintained their professional competence in line with requirements, audit procedures will be straightforward.  The relevant postgraduate training body will issue a Statement of Participation which will confirm the number of credits achieved to date and this may then be presented to the Council as evidence of compliance with these requirements.

By actively embracing a system that ensures the continuing quality of our practice, doctors demonstrate both our high standards of professionalism and our continuing commitment to the safety of patients.

View detailed information on Professional Competence requirements.