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RPL process for non-scheme doctors would ‘make sense’ – NDTP Director

By Catherine Reilly - 08th Oct 2023


There should be a system to facilitate recognition of prior learning (RPL) applications from NCHDs in non-training posts, according to the Medical Director of HSE National Doctors Training and Planning (NDTP) Prof Brian Kinirons.

The NCHD taskforce’s interim report, published in April, recommended that the postgraduate training bodies and Medical Council review RPL processes to optimise recruitment while maintaining standards. Its final report is due to be submitted to the Minister for Health shortly.

The potential to access training in Ireland has widened for some international doctors, following reforms facilitating faster access to stamp 4 residency and treatment of stamp 4 holders as equivalent to EU nationals during the training application process.

However, Prof Kinirons noted there is a cohort of experienced doctors working in Ireland who are over qualified to enter basic specialist training and wish to apply for higher specialist training (HST).

“Within that particular cohort… who are being trained by trainers recognised by the postgraduate training bodies, in hospitals which are accredited for training, my ambition would be that they would get some of their time recognised,” said Prof Kinirons. “There would have to be competencies and standards that every other trainee would have to meet, and that would allow them to compete for entry into HST level…. That, to me, would make an awful lot of sense.”

His understanding was doctors can receive recognition of experience in Irish non-training posts in the UK and then be considered for its HST programmes.

Prof Kinirons, who is a member of the NCHD taskforce, also referenced NDTP initiatives to support doctors who are not on training schemes, including an e-portfolio developed specifically for their needs.

Ultimately, it is NDTP’s objective to convert many of the non-training posts into training positions. It is also national policy to reduce over-reliance on international medical graduates, who fill most non-training posts.

Dr Liqa ur Rehman, President of the Irish Society of International Doctors, said RPL would be “a very simple solution” to stop the “brain drain” of skilled non-scheme doctors to other health systems. An RCPI spokesperson said it was examining how doctors previously ineligible to apply for training, under internship equivalency rules, may be assessed for eligibility to apply for HST.

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