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Trainee mentoring must be formalised, says Varadkar

Speaking this morning at the launch of two new reports from the Medical Council, Minister Varadkar said many of the training institutions already had voluntary or informal mentoring arrangements, “but we now need to ensure that the mentoring role is formally introduced”.

Asked by the Medical Independent (MI) if some trainees had reported a resistance to mentoring among consultants, Minister Varadkar responded: “Nobody has said to me that consultants are resistant to mentoring. I haven’t heard that said.

“But what we do have is a lot of informal mentoring programmes, so if you are in the right place and you get lucky you might have a mentor, if you don’t you don’t. And I think we need to put that now on a formal structure. I think there is a couple of things we can do to improve things for doctors in training – obviously as a Government we can increase salaries and take-home pay and that is happening with the new pay-scales and the reductions in taxes in the budget, and pay restoration happening under the Lansdowne Road Agreement, the further implementation of the European Working Time Directive…

“But also other people need to play their part too, particularly the training bodies. The colleges need to make sure that their rotations are more attractive, that trainees know where they are going to be going every six months and every year, that they have protected training time as is the case, for example, with general practice training … and also I think everyone in the health service needs to make a greater effort to treat our doctors in training with the degree of courtesy and mentoring that they deserve…”

Earlier, Minister Varadkar had underlined his support for a recommendation to strengthen mentoring, which was included in the MacCraith review of medical training and career structure.

He said that consultants had a role in improving conditions for trainees and “must find the time to mentor trainees and to teach them and to encourage them”.

The Medical Council’s Your Training Counts report, published this morning alongside its Medical Workforce Intelligence report, found that one-in-five trainees intended to ‘definitely not’ or ‘probably not’ practise medicine in Ireland for the foreseeable future.

In another finding, trainees who were frequently bullied in post were twice as likely as those who were never bullied to express an intention to leave medical practice in Ireland.

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