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‘National approach’ required for returning interns – MIB

A “national approach” is required for the safe return to practice for interns following extended leave, heard a
meeting of the Medical Intern Board (MIB). There have been five interns over the past 10 years who have sought to return to intern training after taking extended leave, which is mainly taken for personal reasons, the HSE informed the Medical Independent.

Currently each case is dealt with on an individual basis by the relevant medical school and associated Intern Training Network. At a MIB meeting in May, Clinical Lead Dr Gozie Offiah advised of queries received regarding interns returning to internship following extended leave. A meeting had been arranged with the Medical Council to discuss this further. According to minutes, it was agreed at the MIB meeting that “a process for safe return to practice needs a national approach and integrating back into the system is resource intensive”. While there were return to work options at postgraduate level, this was not the case at intern level.

At intern stage, any pathway would have to take account of “potential patient safety issues and evidence regarding the individual knowledge, skills and professionalism of candidates who have never been in clinical practice for an adequate minimum period of time”. Meanwhile, the MIB’s meeting in July heard that plans to implement a “health passport” for interns to allow them to declare health issues (similar to a UK model)
had been discussed with the HSE Workplace Health and Wellbeing Unit.

However, this proposal “has not been supported as the policy currently is that interns should not be treated differently to other groups of employees”, for whom there were supports available and a process through occupational health to declare any issues. The MIB meeting agreed that interns needed support in the transition from student to doctor and it was decided a brief would be prepared.

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