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Military medicine will be developed as a dual qualification alongside general practice.
It will be a stand-alone specialty in its own right, and will involve training in general practice, emergency medicine, anaesthesia, public health, occupational medicine and psychiatry.
There are currently 18 medical officers serving full time with the Permanent Defence Forces. Over the years, there have been difficulties recruiting military doctors due to lack of a specific training and qualification pathway.
Minister Varadkar said: “I think this measure makes a lot of sense. The new specialty will specifically address the medical requirements of the Defence Forces. It will lead to the development of a comprehensive and relevant training programme for medical practitioners, whether they serve at home or with the UN.
“The specialist skills will be a particular benefit to those involved in humanitarian assistance and disaster response. It will also provide a career path for military doctors when they complete their military career and return to general practice and civilian life.”
Minister for Defence Simon Coveney also welcomed the development. “This is one of a range of measures currently being considered to advance the development of the medical service for the Defence Forces. It also recognises the skillset which Medical Officers serving in the Defence Forces bring to bear in their work at home and overseas.”
The Medical Council held a consultation phase earlier this year and recommended that military medicine should be approved as a specialty.
The ICGP will support the new specialty.
The addition of military medicine brings the number of medical specialties on the Specialist Register to 57.
In a statement today, the Medical Council said it will work closely with the ICGP and the Faculty of Military Medicine in order to support the new specialty. The ICGP is responsible and accountable to the Medical Council for matters relating to military medicine, stated Kingram House.
As the Medical Independent (MI) recently reported, the Medical Council has ceased accepting new applications for specialty recognition, pending a review of the specialty recognition process next year.