The Medical Council’s specialty recognition process is “temporarily paused” for a second time since 2015.
The process was previously paused due to concerns there were “too many specialties recognised in Ireland, resulting in fragmentation of a very stretched health service”, heard a Council meeting in June 2022.
During this meeting, the Council decided to again suspend the process. A spokesperson informed the Medical Independent the process is “temporarily paused” while the Council consults with the Department of Health and the HSE on a national healthcare workforce strategy to inform the future needs of Irish healthcare services.
Currently, 57 specialties are recognised by the Council and there is one application being considered.
A commissioned review, completed in 2017, identified enhancements to the process and explored international approaches to specialty recognition along with alternative options.
The report recommended exploring the possibility of credentialing, “but there was little appetite for this among the training bodies or the Medical Council at the time,” according to meeting minutes.
“The recommended enhancements… such as considering the potential impact on patient care, liaising with the Health Service Executive from the outset, and increasing patient and public involvement, were built into the revised application process, which was reopened in March 2019.”
“The Council was informed that a position from the Department of Health and the Health Service Executive regarding healthcare needs and plans and where specialisation fits into the healthcare framework would provide guidance and focus for future aspirant specialties in their application; and to the Medical Council in assessing an application for recognition of a specialty.”
Special training certificates not requiring formal recognition by the Medical Council should also be explored as part of workforce planning, the meeting heard.