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As previously reported by MI, the RCSI had raised concerns in April 2016 with the Medical Council regarding the use of the title.
Correspondence between the RCSI and the Medical Council continued during 2016, and according to minutes of a meeting of the RCSI’s Surgery and Postgraduate Faculties Board in October, legal advice was sought on the issue.
“RCSI has taken advice from in-house legal counsel and identified an area that would assist the Medical Council in providing protection for the title which would present people’s qualifications more accurately to the public,” according to the minutes, seen by MI.
The RCSI wants the title ‘surgeon’ to be used only by surgeons on the Specialist Register and not by doctors with general registration. The College’s Surgery and Postgraduate Faculties Board noted that the Minister for Health could be “asked to make changes to the regulations”.
Last week, a Department of Health spokesperson said it was aware of correspondence between the Medical Council and the RCSI regarding the issue, and that the Minister awaited any recommendation that may be made by the Council.
“The Council has confirmed to the Department that it has been in communication with the RCSI in relation to the use of the title ‘surgeon’,” a Department spokesperson told MI.
“The RCSI would like the term ‘surgeon’ to be restricted to only those registered medical practitioners on the surgical Specialist Register. The Council has sought further information from the RCSI on whether the current position may be posing a risk to patient safety or the public interest. Any information received from the RCSI will be carefully considered by the Council.
“Having examined the situation, the Council can make a recommendation to the Minister on amending the Medical Practitioners Act on the title ‘surgeon’, if it believes this to be in the interest of patient safety.”
The RCSI was not in a position to provide comment before press time. A Medical Council spokesperson said there was no plan at present to alter the regulations in regards to the use of the title ‘surgeon’.