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A spokesperson for the Council said credentialling was an alternative to recognition of a specialty, in circumstances where an area of medical practice “does/would not meet the criteria for recognition as a specialty”.
The Council held a consultation meeting on specialty recognition and credentialling in April. It was decided that the College of Psychiatrists of Ireland and the ICGP would initially be approached with a view to exploring the viability of credentialling within these two areas of medical practice. In the meantime, the Council’s process of specialty recognition will be reopened as soon as possible, once documentation is finalised, this newspaper understands.
The Council stopped accepting new applications for specialty recognition in March 2015, pending a review of the existing process. Plymouth University, UK, conducted a review of the procedures for the recognition of specialties in Ireland and it appraised potential “enhancement options”. The cost of the review contract was €35,000 excluding VAT.
Prior to suspending the acceptance of new applications, MI understands that relevant bodies had plans to pursue recognition of forensic psychiatry and forensic pathology, for example. The last specialty to be recognised by the Council before the process was suspended was military medicine.
A spokesperson for the College of Psychiatrists of Ireland told MI: “The College has been asked by the Medical Council for a meeting to discuss credentialling and a date has been set to meet in September, but we have no further detail or information other than the invitation.”
The ICGP had no comment to make on the issue when contacted by MI.
In the UK, the General Medical Council (GMC) defines credentialling as “a process which provides formal accreditation of competences (which include knowledge, skills and performance) in a defined area of practice, at a level that provides confidence that the individual is fit to practise in that area… ”
The UK regulator is proposing to introduce a process of credentialling to enhance medical regulation and patient protection. Earlier this year, a GMC spokesperson informed MI that it was “currently piloting a certification scheme for cosmetic surgeons together with the Royal College of Surgeons” and would expand the pilots further to consider credentials in other areas.