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Medical Council set to ‘grandfather’ consultants

The Medical Council will be able to ‘grandfather’ consultants who were appointed prior to 2008 and are not on the specialist division of the register, it has been confirmed.

‘Grandfathering’ was the process whereby consultants appointed appropriately before 2008 could be placed on the specialist division after new requirements were put in place that year, which meant consultants must be on that division of the register.

However, a number of doctors, who qualified as specialists before the new legislation, did not ‘grandfather’ or transfer over to the specialist division in time, as they were entitled to.

In a letter to Secretary General of the Department of Health Mr Jim Breslin on 9 October 2018, obtained by the Medical Independent through Freedom of Information law, Director of National Doctors Training and Planning Prof Frank Murray requested the Department’s “intervention” in relation to consultants appointed prior to 2008 “who were appointed through a standard interview process and were appointed in a way that was entirely appropriate”.

There are fewer than 50 of these consultants on the register, according to Prof Murray.

“The requirement for consultant appointment at the time was that they had either a specified duration of appropriate experience or were on the specialist division of the register,” stated Prof Murray.

“These doctors had the option to apply to be grandfathered onto the SDR [specialist division of the register], but do not appear to have done so. The only option available for them now to apply for entry onto the SDR is unfortunately not practical for many, as their training was so long ago that they will be unable to produce the level of documentation now required.”

A Department spokesperson said the request has been agreed to, subject to the approval of the Oireachtas.

“It is intended that an amendment to the Medical Practitioners Act providing for the reopening of the window for a limited time will be moved when the Regulated Professions (Health and Social Care) (Amendment) Bill 2019 is at Committee Stage.”

The issue of consultants who are not on the specialist division has been raised by the IHCA and the IMO and has received the attention of HIQA and the High Court.

The HSE has put in place a process to resolve the issue, which is still ongoing.

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