Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland Coláiste Ríoga na Máinleá in Éirinn

Special circumstances

What if I am retired? Am I required to engage in PCS? Can I retain my name on the Medical Council Register?

The same requirements apply regardless of employment status.

All retired doctors who remain registered with the Medical Council and thus retain the right to practice medicine have a legal obligation to maintain professional competence.

Doctors retired from clinical practice who engages on behalf of professional bodies in mentoring, supervision of trainees, examining and other such activities that have direct impact on clinical activity, should maintain their Medical Council registration.

If you withdraw your name from the register voluntarily, you can retain the title of "Dr" and engage in college activities that have no direct impact on clinical activity, such as fundraising etc.

Contact your professional competence scheme for advice on meeting your requirements.

What will the requirements be for a retired doctor who does occasional sessions in general practice?

A doctor engaged in any form of general medical practice will have to comply fully with Professional Competence Scheme requirements appropriate to their area of practice. All retired doctors who remain registered with the Medical Council and thus retain the right to practice medicine have a legal obligation to maintain professional competence.

I only work part-time. Do I still have to complete 50 hours of CPD per annum and a clinical audit?

Yes. The requirements for doctors in full-time and part-time practice are the same.

I am on leave – do I still need to be enrolled in a scheme? Do I need to still collect as many credits?

Many doctors do not practice medicine for an extended period of time during the course of their career. There can be many reasons for this, from maternity leave to illness or taking a career break.

The length of any leave of absence from the practice of medicine will have an impact on participation in a professional competence scheme. The following broad guidelines apply:

 

  • One year or less: 
You must notify your PGTB that you intend to cease practicing medicine for a period of 6-12 months. The PGTB may require you to produce relevant supporting documentation, including a professional development plan.

 

Where possible you should maintain some engagement in the maintenance of professional competence over the duration of the leave as you are still required to achieve the targets of professional competence as required by the Medical Council.

There should be a planned return to work with your professional body if absence is related to illness that could have affected cognition or physical ability.

 

  • Between one and three years: 
You must notify both your PGTB and the Medical Council that you intend to cease practicing medicine. The training body may require you to produce relevant supporting documentation.

 

On return to practice you will be asked to provide a professional development plan, which may include provisions for a planned re-entry to practice supported by your employing body and, if required, with engagement with your postgraduate medical training body.

Where possible you should maintain some engagement in the maintenance of professional competence over the duration of the leave.

 

  • Over three years: 
If you are planning to cease the practice of medicine for more than three years, you are advised to withdraw from the register voluntarily. There is a straightforward process by which you can apply to restore your name to the register at any time in the future. If voluntary withdrawal is not an option, you should contact the professional competence section of the Medical Council. Decisions on matters like this are considered on a case-by-case basis.

 

You will, however, be asked to provide a professional development plan, which may include provisions for a planned re-entry to practice supported by your employing body and if required with engagement with your PGTB.

Leave of absence of any duration:

Doctors may consider voluntary withdrawal from the register. Doctors do not retain the right to practice medicine and have no responsibility to maintain professional competence.

What about locums? Will the same rules apply to them as for other RMPs?

Yes

I intend to practice overseas, what does this mean for my professional competence enrolment?

Overseas for a year or less

If doctors leave Ireland for a short period of time (a year or less) to practice overseas then they should enrol in a professional competence scheme as operated by the PGTB. A short break will be easy to accommodate by continuing to engage in the maintenance of professional competence activities while practising overseas. Any deficit can be made up on return to practice in Ireland.

 

  • Overseas for more than a year
A doctor based overseas can maintain their professional competence in line with requirements set by the Medical Council.

 

A doctor may achieve this in either of two ways:

Doctors practising medicine in countries where there are already established structured maintenance of professional competence type programmes in place (e.g. Australia, Canada, New Zealand, South Africa, the UK, the US) can pursue requirements to maintain competence in the jurisdiction in which they are practising medicine using such an established structured maintenance of professional competence type programme. Engaging in activities to maintain professional competence in line with requirements set by the Medical Council will be straightforward and doctors pursuing this approach will find that the requirements set by the Medical Council are very similar to the requirements of other structured maintenance of professional competence type programmes. A doctor practising overseas pursuing this approach to maintenance of professional competence who comes to practise medicine in Ireland will enrol in a professional competence scheme operated by a recognised PGTB in Ireland when a cumulative total of greater than 30 days per year has been spent in the practise of medicine in Ireland.


... or ...


The doctor may contact and enrol in a professional competence scheme operated by a recognised PGTB. CPD activities engaged in while in another jurisdiction may be recognised and approved by the postgraduate training body, while the doctor may avail of the scheme's facility for planning, recording and managing professional competence activities. As with all doctors enrolled in a PCS operated by a postgraduate training body, doctors may be required to participate in a verification process and to provide evidence to support their recorded activities. If an EEA State citizen is fully established to practise medicine in another member State, the doctor may practise medicine in Ireland on a temporary and occasional basis without having to take out specialist or general registration, and is therefore exempt from participation in a CPD scheme. Further information is available in the Medical Council's guide to registration.

A doctor may choose to voluntarily withdraw from the Medical Council's register and seek restoral upon return to practice in the State.

Read more about professional competence requirements for overseas doctors here

My role is as a full-time academic. Do I need to undertake a minimum amount of patient contact/clinical work?

The underlying principles are that an individual medical practitioners PCS activities should be planned and should reflect and be relevant to his or her current and future profile of professional practice and performance. It is mandatory for medical practitioners to maintain competence in areas of practice and medicine in which they engage in on an occasional or infrequent basis. 

If a doctor does engage in even a minimum amount of patient contact they must maintain their competence in this area of practice. Read more here.