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Forum to consult Medical Council on assessing training requirements

By Mindo - 13th May 2020

The Forum of Irish Postgraduate Medical Training Bodies will be seeking guidance from the Medical Council in regard to potential flexible interpretations of training requirements for certain specialties due to the impact of Covid-19, according to its Chair.

Dr Justin Brophy said access to experience for trainees in craft specialties – most notably, surgery – had been “hampered and changed” by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Colleges were “trying to find workarounds insofar as possible”, he told the Medical Independent.

However, where logbooks cannot be completed and procedures cannot be logged in the craft specialties, “the clear impact is that there will most likely be a delay in the completion of training for some individuals in those areas.”

“There is some move in the UK to make more flexible some of the criteria around training and we have only started to look at that,” added Dr Brophy.

“The Medical Council will be looking at that in the coming weeks and to what extent we can work within the regulatory constraints around completing training remains to be seen. So we will be looking for guidance from the Medical Council around changes, or flexible interpretations, of training requirements for certain specialties.”

Meanwhile, the Forum is advocating for an increase in training places this year and for 2021, when hundreds of extra interns will finish their internships.

This year’s increase is sought for doctors who returned from abroad to help with the Covid-19 workload and those who had arrangements to undertake further training abroad, which may not now proceed.

Dr Brophy could not yet indicate an ideal number of extra training places and noted that training bodies also had “finite capacity” to deliver and manage training.

The higher requirements for wearing of personal protective equipment, the slower delivery of some procedures due to new requirements, the growing backlog, and the still emerging shape of the service in delivering Covid-19 and non-Covid-19 pathways, meant training and workforce needs were not yet clear, Dr Brophy said.

However, it was clear there will be “increased demand, increased volume, and increased complexity”.

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