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RCPI welcomes legislative changes to help non-EEA doctors to access training

By Mindo - 10th Nov 2020

 The RCPI has welcomed news that Minister for Health, Stephen Donnelly, has enacted legislative changes that will help non-EEA doctors to access postgraduate specialist training in Ireland. RCPI had actively advocated for this legislative change and will continue to advocate for the expansion of training posts and wider access to these programmes, and has extended the deadline for applicants to its Basic Specialist Training programme to accommodate applications from eligible non-EEA doctors.

Minister Donnelly has signed an order commencing Sections 97 and 100 of the Regulated Professions (Health and Social Care) (Amendment) Act 2020. These sections amend the Medical Practitioners Act 2007 and remove a requirement that doctors who qualified in a non-EEA country, and who wish to commence postgraduate medical training in Ireland, must have completed an internship deemed the equivalent of that completed in Ireland. 

RCPI had advocated for the enactment of the above changes and in June 2020 President, Prof Mary Horgan, wrote to Minister Donnelly to highlight the urgency of progressing these revisions. 

On the news of these changes, Prof Mary Horgan said: “Non EEA-qualified doctors make an enormous contribution to Irish hospitals and the care of our patients, their impact has been especially great at this very challenging time during the ongoing pandemic. I am delighted that these specific barriers have been removed and that access to specialist training is now more open to those doctors who previously would not have been able to apply for it.”  

She continued: “These changes are something we have long been calling for in RCPI, and this is something I am very glad to see has been addressed by Minister Donnelly. We will continue to advocate for the expansion of training posts nationally, and to further expand access to these posts.”  

To reflect the impact of these amendments, RCPI has extended the application deadline for doctors applying for Basic Specialist Training (BST) who will become eligible for entry onto the training register under the Regulated Professions (Health and Social Care) (Amendment) Act 2020. Applications from this cohort of doctors will now be accepted up until November 27, if accompanied by an email or with a general registration certificates (either current or in the past) from the Medical Council confirming future eligibility. All the other criteria of eligibility for RCPI Training continue as applied.  

The closing date for doctors who are not impacted by the Regulated Professions (Health and Social Care) (Amendment) Act 2020 remains 12pm, Friday November 13 2020. You can find out more on this decision and Basic Specialist Training by clicking here.  

As the largest postgraduate medical training body in Ireland, RCPI has been aware of issues regarding access to specialist training for non-EEA qualified doctors and has worked with a range of stakeholders, including the Forum for Postgraduate Medical Training Bodies and Medical Council, to address the challenges faced by those doctors who were not in training schemes. This issue was discussed at a recent RCPI Council meeting and the College held meetings with doctors who advocated for changes on behalf of this group. 

RCPI continues to work with a wide range of stakeholders, including the HSE National Doctor Training and Planning (NDTP), to expand educational and training opportunities for those doctors who are not currently in training schemes. The RCPI is currently working with the NDTP/HSE and the Forum of Postgraduate Training Bodies on a Framework of Structured Supports for Non-Training Scheme Doctors in Ireland. This is being led out by the NDTP and the training bodies are engaged in formulating this and rolling out going forward for the HSE (NDTP) and the wider healthcare system.

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