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There will be no rise in intern numbers for 2020, the HSE has stated.
A HSE report on “modernisation” of the intern year, obtained by the Medical Independent (MI) under Freedom of Information law, outlined “a feeling that the current number of intern places is insufficient to match the number of graduates from Irish medical schools”.
It said representatives from HSE National Doctors Training and Planning (NDTP) had met with personnel from the Department of Health in August 2018 to discuss intern numbers.
“It was acknowledged by all stakeholders that the Fottrell Report is no longer relevant with regard to intern numbers and is considered outdated considering workforce projections, patient safety issues and European Working Time Directives (EWTD),” according to the report.
“If there is capacity within the HSE and sufficient training opportunities to fund additional posts then this should be progressed but consideration will have to be given to where the posts are located. Reports following Medical Council site visits have also referred to the need for an increase in intern numbers to ensure patient safety and comply with EWTD legislation.”
In April 2019, NDTP representatives met with Ms Anne Murphy, Senior Human Resources Lead, HSE National Acute Operations, to discuss the process with regard to increasing intern numbers and securing the necessary funding and approval.
“Cost implications will have to be considered in this regard through engagement with [the] HSE strategic planning department and a review of structures at clinical sites will be important when allocating additional posts.”
Around 1,200 doctors graduate from Irish medical schools annually, but there are only 734 intern places.
In October, the Department told MI the current number of intern posts “more than meets the domestic demand, with limited capacity to meet demand outside of Ireland’s domestic needs”.
Head of the Irish Medical Schools Council, Prof Carmel Malone said it was “inevitable” that an increase in intern numbers would be required. She said this was needed to address service gaps and provide “appropriate learning opportunities for interns in a supportive environment”.