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Medical Qualifications

Dáil Éireann Debate, Wednesday - 13 May 2020

Wednesday, 13 May 2020

Questions (696)

Thomas Pringle


696. Deputy Thomas Pringle asked the Minister for Health the checks made into the qualifications of doctors coming to work here from other countries; and if an English language exam is required before they take up a position with the HSE. [4856/20]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

The Medical Council is responsible for the registration of doctors in Ireland. The roles and powers of the Medical Council are laid out in the Medical Practitioners Act 2007.

All doctors are required to possess a degree or diploma awarded from a Medical School or institution listed in the World Directory of Medical Schools (WDOMS). Applicants from non-EU countries need to have their qualifications verified through the Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates (ECFMG) prior to applying to the Medical Council. The Council can then confirm the relevant qualifications have been verified through the Electronic Portfolio of International Credentials (EPIC), available through the ECFMG website. All non-EU applicants are required to provide documentary evidence of English language proficiency as part of their application and guidelines as to what can be accepted as evidence of communication skills are available on the Medical Council’s website.

Doctors who graduate from Non-European Union/European Economic Area countries or Switzerland may be required to sit one of the Medical Council's examinations. Doctors intending to pursue registration in the general or trainee specialist division may be required to sit the Pre-Registration Examination System (PRES). The PRES examinations are primarily a test of knowledge and clinical skills in the main clinical disciplines of Obstetrics & Gynaecology, Paediatrics, Psychiatry, Surgery, and Medicine/General Practice. The PRES examinations are based on the Eight Domains of Good Professional Practice as devised by Medical Council. All applicants for registration will be required to undergo a Level 1 assessment and verification of their documentation and alternative qualification, prior to eligibility for the PRES Level 3 being granted. PRES Level 3 is an assessment of a doctor's clinical skills.

Applicants from EU/EEA countries are entitled to “automatic recognition” of their qualifications under the provisions of the EU Professional Qualifications Directive 2005/36/EC. Prospective applicants are required to hold a qualification listed in Annex V 5.1.1. and/or Annex V 5.1.2, awarded by the relevant body. All documents submitted need to be notarised/attested in the correct manner. The Directive is designed to facilitate the freedom of movement of professionals within the single market, and to remove barriers to allow this movement to be as frictionless as possible. As such, it does not provide for the blanket language testing of every applicant, although recent updates allow Member States a little more flexibility to ask for such evidence on a case-by-case basis.

The HSE independently requires a doctor to complete an assessment of their English language capabilities, as part of the employment engagement process. The most recent circular from the HSE - HR Circular 022/2018 attached - sets out the HSE position re English language requirements for NCHDs employed in the HSE.