Applications for registration with the Medical Council from some categories of international doctors are taking over eight months before becoming eligible for assessment.
As of mid-September, the turnaround time to bring these applications to “eligible status” for assessment was 35-to-39 weeks. This timescale relates to international doctors applying for general registration through the internship equivalency route. Certificates of experience (CoE) from the following countries are recognised as equivalent for registration purposes: Pakistan (internships commenced after 2008), South Africa, (internships commenced from July 2006), Sudan, Malaysia, Australia, and New Zealand.
The turnaround time had “slightly” increased since June due to the “peak processing period” between May and August, according to the Council. This period included processing the annual retention of over 26,000 doctors, registration of new interns, and transfer of eligible former interns to the general and trainee divisions.
“Some Medical Council staff had to be redeployed to assist with this activity. These staff have now been moved back so we expect this to have a positive impact on CoE turnaround times over the next few weeks,” said the Council’s spokesperson.
“As before, a number of factors have contributed to the lengthy turnaround times for the CoE route in general. Since the easing of the pandemic, the number of applications coming through this route has increased significantly and the levels remain consistently higher than pre-pandemic. Additional resources were recruited to progress these applications and it is expected that improvements to the turnaround times will be seen in relation to applications which are correctly presented.”
The spokesperson added that the registration team was working closely with colleagues in the Council to “improve and streamline” communications to doctors. This includes reviewing the material on the Council website to improve the quality of information available to doctors applying for registration.
A number of other actions are being progressed and explored to “improve efficiencies and increase capacity within the team”.
Despite the processing times for the CoE route, where there is an urgent service need, the Council “works closely with the HSE to ensure a doctor’s registration is completed”.