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Doctor ‘licensing’ should be considered — Council

In a statement to the Medical Independent (MI), the Council said “failure to engage in life-long learning ultimately impacts on patient safety”.

It added: “Implementing a licence to practice model, similar to that for other professions, should be explored as a potential solution to manage non-compliance as restricting a registered medical practitioner’s right to practice is a mechanism to protect patients.”

According to minutes of a Department of Health governance meeting with the Council in February 2017, obtained by MI under Freedom of Information legislation, some 25 per cent of registrants were not even enrolled in professional competence schemes.

A Council spokesperson told MI that since the inception of mandatory maintenance of professional competence in May 2011, “much has been progressed and achieved” to “facilitate” doctors’ compliance with the legal requirements.

Nevertheless, the Council said it established that the enrolment rates “should be higher” than what was being reported by the postgraduate training bodies.

“However, it was identified in December 2016 that the data used to determine the size and characteristics of the non-enrolled pool was inconsistent. The Medical Council took steps to rectify this during the course of 2017, including contacting the registered medical practitioners to remind them of their legal obligations to enrol in a scheme and engage in maintenance of professional competence activity.

“A collaborative effort between the Medical Council and postgraduate training bodies has resulted in increased enrolment rates, with approximately 95 per cent now being compliant.  The Medical Council continues to engage with stakeholders, particularly the employers who have a responsibility for ensuring the registered medical practitioners they employ are enrolled and engaging in ongoing maintenance of professional competence and will actively pursue non-enrolled registered medical practitioners, enforcing regulatory action as required. Already a small number of registered medical practitioners who have not provided evidence of their CPD compliance have been brought to Fitness to Practise.”

The Council will be producing a report “in the coming month” highlighting the strengths and challenges of implementing the current model for maintenance of professional competence.

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