Arising from the recommendation of the Report of the Undergraduate Medical Education and Training Group (Fottrell 2006), to significantly increase the medical student intake of the Irish medical schools, the number of intern posts available within the HSE increased from 488 to 650 (the expected number of posts for the July 2013 intake). The HSE anticipates that all EU graduates from Irish medical schools who meet the eligibility criteria for intern posts and who desire to remain in Ireland for an internship starting in July 2013, will be accommodated within the Irish public health service. The HSE has in place formal agreements with the Intern Training Networks/Universities regarding the provision of the Medical Council accredited National Intern Training Programme.
The main reforms of the intern year as recommended by the Report of the National Committee on Medical Education and Training (NCMET) have been implemented by the HSE in collaboration and consultation with the Medical Council and the relevant educational partners at both undergraduate and postgraduate level. The HSE has formal agreements in place with the recognised postgraduate medical training bodies in Ireland regarding the provision of specialist medical education and training to the Non Consultant Hospital Doctor (NCHD) cohort in Ireland. These agreements set out the number of doctors to be trained by each training body both by year of training and by specialty. This number is determined by the HSE following consultation with the training bodies and consideration of current and future workforce requirements for qualified specialists.
The HSE also has formal agreements in place with the recognised postgraduate medical training bodies in Ireland regarding the provision of professional development programmes to NCHDs not engaged in specialist training in Ireland. The objective of these programmes is to facilitate this cohort of doctors to maintain their professional competence. In recent years the HSE has invested significantly in the expansion and development of existing and new specialist medical training programmes including the development of a basic specialist training programme in Emergency Medicine; the expansion and reconfiguration of specialist training in Anaesthesia; and an increase in GP training numbers from 120 per year to 157, in line with GP workforce requirements.
In addition, the HSE has implemented two scholarship programmes specifically targeting NCHDs in their latter stages of training. The first programme enables NCHDs to undertake specialist training in novel medical areas abroad with a view to returning and developing their new expertise within the Irish health service as specialists. The second programme supports NCHDs in undertaking an integrated PhD research programme with their higher specialist training, thereby further developing high quality relevant clinical research in Ireland.