The Medical Council had issued 156 refunds on retention fees to doctors on maternity leave as of mid-December 2022, a spokesperson has informed the Medical Independent (MI). The refund comprises 50 per cent of the total retention fee.
The spokesperson said the Council does not capture whether the doctors are on the specialist, trainee or general division of the register.
As of 1 July 2022, doctors on maternity leave are entitled to a refund of 50 per cent of their annual retention fee.
Speaking when the new policy was announced, Head of Registration Ms Ann Curran indicated that this would be the first in a number of changes to registration fee structures.
In the past, doctors on maternity leave have either paid the full retention fee or have voluntarily withdrawn from the register. This change has permitted doctors to stay on the register while on maternity leave, receive a 50 per cent refund on retention fees and reduce the administrative burden on the doctor if they were to voluntarily withdraw and reapply to the register.
Commenting last year, Council President Dr Suzanne Crowe outlined: “The people delivering medicine and caring for our patients have been changing over recent years as we see a growing number of women entering the medical profession.”
“Currently, just over 45 per cent of the medical register in Ireland are women, and in the 20-to-35-year age group there are more women in medicine than men.”
Dr Crowe added: “While the functions of the medical regulator are clearly set out in legislation, our role is not as clear-cut. In partnership with our stakeholders, the Medical Council must look to the future of patient safety and care by utilising the research and data we hold to better understand and support the medical profession and all those working in the healthcare sector, while striving for the delivery of a healthcare workforce plan that will seek to ensure patient needs are being met safely.”
“This small change, the first of a number, will make a difference to doctors and their families and I commend the Medical Council’s registration department for leading on this significant change.”
MI was awaiting an update on further changes to the registration fee structure at press time.