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There are “challenges coming” in regard to continuing medical education (CME) in general practice, the ICGP President told the recent annual conference of Rural, Island and Dispensing Doctors in Athlone.
Dr Mary Favier said the College recognised CME small-group meetings as among the most important issues for members.
The Cork GP said the transfer of GP training from the HSE to the ICGP was expected to be completed in July 2020. Thereafter, it was anticipated that the HSE would also transfer responsibility for employment of CME tutors.
Dr Favier said this presented challenges and opportunities to the College.
“There are challenges coming,” she said. “The College administers the professional competence scheme under the remit of the Medical Council appropriately. The Medical Council is doing a review of its professional competence schemes… and they are asking searching questions — good ones.”
Dr Favier said she had previously sat on the College’s professional competence committee “and one of the important things we really argued for is that you should get four points for going to CME, two external and two internal. Now we have to continue to defend that… ”
“I think fundamentally, our product in CME is different — it is different to anything you get in an educational meeting, where you get your external points, but also for GPs, particularly in rural environments and particularly if you are single-handed, getting your internal points is a challenge.” She said obtaining these points through CME meetings was important.
Mr Fintan Foy, ICGP CEO, said CME small-group meetings were under-funded by the HSE.
The College was “making up that difference, which is not great either, because that is not sustainable into the future”, he commented.
According to Ballinasloe GP Dr Annraoi Finnegan, former National Director of the CME Small Group Network, the HSE took over the CME schemes in 2009 and applied a 30 per cent funding cut. In 2011, doctors became legally obliged to maintain a prescribed level of professional competence “and there was a 40 per cent increase in attendance at the CME meetings, so basically the CME tutors locally have struggled, really since 2009 to date, in meeting the demands of the scheme”.