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Doctors’ licence model to be considered – outgoing CEO

A proposal for a licensing model for doctors is being developed at the Medical Council, its outgoing CEO has confirmed.

Speaking to the Medical Independent (MI) in late May, Mr Bill Prasifka said such a development would require legislative amendment and no decision has been made at this time.

More broadly, the Council has been working with postgraduate medical training bodies to evolve the model of maintaining professional competence, with some changes potentially being advanced later in the year. It is expected greater emphasis will be placed on communication skills and reflective practice, as well as more online learning.

In regard to introducing a ‘licence to practise’ model, Mr Prasifka commented: “Now to go to such a model would require an amendment to the legislation, so let us just say, right now we are developing proposals for consideration by Council. But obviously no decision has been made at this time.”

Currently, registered doctors are legally required to enrol in a professional competence scheme and to comply with the Medical Council’s standards for the maintenance of professional competence.

Asked about the benefits of a licence to practise system, Mr Prasifka said: “It would simply make it a condition to practise that someone is up-to-date in terms of their CPD [continuing professional development]. This is the rule for solicitors, for other professions and so that would be the reason for it, to really make CPD mandatory … Provided the CPD is relevant, accessible, actually makes doctors better, then it should improve patient outcomes. But again, that is all up for analysis and discussion, so no decision has been made.”

Mr Prasifka previously raised this model in an interview with MI in 2016, when he said some professions do not get a practising cert if they have not done their CPD.

However, non-enrolment in professional competence schemes, which had been a concern in recent years, had since improved.

Elsewhere in the interview, which will be published in the next issue of MI, Mr Prasifka praised the efforts of doctors during the Covid-19 crisis, describing many as “really performing heroically”.

The US-trained lawyer is leaving Ireland to take up the role of Executive Director of the Medical Board of California.

Meanwhile, last month the President of the Medical Council Dr Rita Doyle wrote to each medical intern to congratulate them as they embarked on their medical careers, amid the challenges of Covid-19.

Dr Doyle’s letter stressed the importance of personal wellbeing and the requirement for each new doctor to have their own GP, in accordance with the Council’s ethical guide.

The Bray GP also included some personal reflections on her experiences and encouraged interns to “trust in your training, trust in your skills, trust in your trainers and most importantly trust one another”.

“I can still remember much of my intern year,” outlined Dr Doyle.

“I remember the SHOs and registrars who taught, encouraged and supported me. I remember the fun of being part of a team. I remember the pain in my feet, not being used to standing all day, but most of all I remember the patients who were patient and tolerant of me. I still remember some of their names.

“I also remember, with great discomfort attending the post-mortem of a patient with whom I had spoken the previous day. I found it chilling and haunting and I would have been too shy to share it with anyone. Now I know that these events must be shared in order to make sense of them and there is no shame in being frightened or upset.”

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