Part 10 of the Medical Practitioners Act 2007 places responsibilities on the Medical Council in relation to the quality assurance of medical education and training in Ireland at both undergraduate and postgraduate levels.
One of these responsibilities is to accredit programmes of specialist training and the bodies which deliver them. There are 13 postgraduate training bodies in the State which are currently recognised by Council and who between them are responsible for delivering programmes of specialist training in 52 specialties.
The Medical Council's accreditation standards for postgraduate medical education and training form the basis of the accreditation process.
Our accreditation activities, for medical education and training at all levels, can be broken down into the following stages.
- The Medical School (or Postgraduate Training Body, or Clinical Site) is asked to provide a written submission to us, providing confirmation and evidence that each of our standards (PDF, 313KB) are being met. We also request additional information such as the number of students at different stages of the programme.
- We form an accreditation team, which is typically made up of Council members, and experts in medical education and training from within, and outside of Ireland. The team receive a copy of the written submission, noting any areas of concern, or areas which may require further clarifications.
- The accreditation team visits the medical school and clinical sites such as teaching hospitals which contribute to programme delivery. During the visit, the team meets with representatives of the school to discuss the submission, and to confirm that our standards are being met. The team also meets with a large number of medical students whose views and feedback on the programme, and the medical school, are a crucial element of the accreditation process.
- At the end of an accreditation process for programmes and bodies, Council has a range of options open to it under the Act. Its decision is based on the extent to which the body and the programme complies with the rules, criteria, standards and guidelines specified by Council.
The options open to the Medical Council are:
- Approval with one or more conditions attached
- Amendment or removal of conditions previously attached
- Withdrawal of approval
- Refusal of approval (this option applies only to the body and not to the programme)
If a programme or body is approved, the school and programme enter a monitoring phase, which is a series of regular engagements and communication to ensure that progress against earlier recommendations is being made. Through monitoring arrangements, we are kept abreast of significant developments with schools and programmes which may require further assessment and evaluation.