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Medical Council Publishes 2014 Annual Report

Doctor numbers at highest level in a decade

The Medical Council today (4th June 2015) published its annual report for 2014, which outlines its work in the areas of medical education and training, registration and the handling of complaints about doctors.

The report shows there were 19,049 doctors registered with the Medical Council at the end of 2014, which is the highest number in a decade.

The Annual Report also documents the first survey of all trainee doctors in the country, Your Training Counts. The third report from this survey, on career intentions and emigration will be published this summer. Data shows that only half of trainee doctors (54%) intend to practise medicine in Ireland for the foreseeable future, with one in five (21%) not intending to practise here and a further one in four (25%) undecided. Importantly, half of those intending to leave Ireland intend to return at some stage. The UK was the most likely destination for trainees, followed by Canada, Australia and the USA.

During the year, approximately 1,800 doctors registered with the Medical Council for the first time, while a further 900 exited the register.

The report also shows:

  • 43 doctors were supported by the Medical Council’s health committee to continue in practice during illness;
  • 113 anatomy donations were made to medical schools in Ireland throughout the year;
  • Following a High Court ruling on the definition of what could constitute poor professional performance on behalf of a doctor, there were less Fitness to Practise Inquiries than in previous years, with 19 completed; 
  • The Council received 308 complaints about doctors in 2014. The number of reports relating to failures in ‘treating patients with dignity’ doubled, with 65 such instances.

Speaking at the report’s publication, Medical Council President, Professor Freddie Wood said: “In light of recent adverse events within the health system, I am reiterating once again to the profession the importance of placing the patient at the centre of all important healthcare decisions, and making sure patients are treated as we would wish to be ourselves. Hospitals and individual doctors must focus on continuous improvement in the interests of their patients, acting on outcome data to look at how well they are working and areas where they can improve.”

Medical Council CEO, Ms Caroline Spillane said: “While it’s positive for the health system that the number of doctors on the register has increased, the focus needs to be on retaining these doctors and making Ireland a desirable place to work. Our Council will continue to work with educators and the wider health system to look at why so many doctors are planning to leave and how we can curtail this trend.”

Professor Freddie Wood paid tribute to CEO, Caroline Spillane, who is to leave the Council in the coming weeks to take up a post as Director General of Engineers Ireland. “This annual report highlights the hard work, achievements, and advancements in all aspects of the Medical Council’s regulatory role in 2014. These accomplishments have been enabled by an excellent chief executive Caroline Spillane, who has overseen the evolution of the Council’s role in recent years, bringing about marked improvements in our processes. We wish her well in her new post and are currently working to identify her successor.”

ENDS