Press Release

Martin announces new amendment to the Medical Practitioners Act

The Minister for Health and Children, Mr Micheál Martin TD, brought the Medical Practitioners (Amendment) Act, 2000 before cabinet today.

The purpose of this amendment is to extend the temporary registration period, as set out in Section 29(2) of the Medical Practitioners Act, 1978 from an aggregate period of not more than five years to an aggregate period of not more than seven years. It was intended to do this to ease recruitment difficulties currently being experienced by hospitals in relation to the recruitment and retention of non-consultant hospital doctors.

Of 3,000 posts nationwide, last week there were 118 NCHD vacancies in health board hospitals and today this figure was 110. Within voluntary hospitals there were 24 vacancies last week , down to 22 today. The number of vacant NCHD posts continue to be filled and the Minister expects further posts to be filled as the 1st July deadline approaches. It has been traditional in previous years for posts to be filled right up to the deadline.

The Minister today said that “by extending the temporary registration period from five to seven years, we can ensure that we have enough NCHDs within our hospitals system to guarantee that we can continue to provide the best possible health services for patients”.

The Minister also pointed to the recent package of proposals offered by the Government to create a significant improvement in the working conditions of NCHDs which will address some long standing grievances of NCHDs, particularly with regards to their rates of overtime pay. This package included a £10 million investment in education and training to bring about a dramatic improvement in both the extent and quality of education and training programmes for NCHDs. This package is presently being voted on by NCHDs with a recommendation to accept from their union, the IMO.

The Minister said “with today’s amendment and the recent package of proposals, I wish to reaffirm this Government’s commitment to ensuring that not only are our hospitals fully staffed but that those staff are also trained to the best standards. On both quality and quantity this government is continuing to deliver”.