A “review” of the military medicine specialist training scheme is ongoing, against a background of recruitment difficulties, the Medical Independent (MI) understands.
According to the Department of Defence, discussions were taking place on “all matters” relating to the scheme between the Department, Defence Forces, the ICGP, and the HSE. The ICGP informed MI it had no role in the review.
This newspaper understands that the salaries for medical officers in the Defence Forces are a fundamental concern for prospective candidates. The Department of Defence has not imposed any requirement for Defence Forces’ medical officers to have specialist registration with the Medical Council.
In 2015, the Medical Council recognised military medicine as a specialty after years of planning and advocacy, which was spearheaded by the then Director of the Defence Forces’ Medical Branch, Col Dr Gerry Kerr (now retired).
The aim was to ensure a consistent supply of specialist-trained medical officers available to the Defence Forces and to reduce dependency on direct-entry medical officers.
The specialist training programme was launched in 2017 with the intention of recruiting two trainees per year.
However, currently there are only three doctors on the scheme. “Three doctors have left, or are leaving the scheme early, for various reasons,” according to an ICGP spokesperson.
The College’s spokesperson confirmed its role in the programme was to “train GPs who wish to work in the military”.
According to recent data, there are 22 medical officers in the Defence Forces, 19 of whom are direct-entry medical officers and three of whom are military medicine trainees. There are six posts vacant.