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The Council, in particular, wants to place a greater emphasis on clinical audit, which along with continuing professional development, is one of the two main elements of professional competence. “We are opening debate with the postgraduate bodies for this area of professional competence to become more informative. We would certainly like assurance from the professional colleges that individuals are deemed to be competent in these areas of manual and technical skills,” Medical Council President Prof Freddie Wood told this paper.
He said while the Council is satisfied with the manner in which professional competence has developed since its introduction in 2011, it is time for the schemes to evolve beyond the academic, which has been the main focus until now. “At this stage they need to start looking at technical ability and competencies,” he said.
“We are of the view, and I am of the view, that every doctor should know what they do, how much they do, how well they do it, and utilise that information to improve patient care.”
Prof Wood added that the expansion of clinical audit activities is particularly relevant for areas such as surgery, anaesthesia, cardiology and obstetrics.
The new requirements would mean that surgeons, for example, would be expected to have a log book to record their annual activity and outcomes. Information on surgical site and wound-infection rates would also be required. “Trainees have to do it, by the way,” he said. “The trainees need to have a log book of all their activity. So our question is, ‘if it is good for trainees, surely it is good for people in practice?’”
Prof Wood also pointed out that other countries, such as Australia, the US and Canada, have similar clinical audit requirements.
Meanwhile, a major new EU study of CPD among health professionals across Europe has found that, in Ireland, greater flexibility and clarity are needed from professional competence schemes for doctors in atypical working arrangements.
These include doctors in part-time practice, those on maternity leave, doctors taking a year out, NCHDs not on a training scheme and retired doctors.
The review also found that cost is the main barrier for Irish-based doctors to participate in CPD activities.