Enhancing doctors' engagement with regulation of professional competence

In the field of medicine, information about how best to care for patients is constantly changing. Since 2011, medical doctors in Ireland are required by law to demonstrate that they are taking part in educational activities to keep them up to date. The aim of this requirement is to reassure the public that their doctors are competent to fulfil their professional roles. The Medical Council oversees this process and can sanction doctors who do not comply by examining their fitness to practise.

There is evidence that a significant number of doctors are not meeting this legal requirement; 16.3% (2,159) of doctors, GPs, consultants and other hospital doctors, working in Ireland have not enrolled in schemes to demonstrate their professional competence and 36% of those who are enrolled are not meeting requirements. This has serious implications for the Irish health system, threating to compromise the public trust in the medical profession in Ireland.

This study aims to explore why doctors are not complying with the regulation of their professional competence and to identify solutions to the issue. Our project team brings together researchers, those overseeing and running professional competence schemes, doctors'employers and insurers, and patients. We propose conducting four studies which will produce recommendations to increase engagement. Firstly we will report on similar programmes internationally, how they work and the evidence that supports them. Secondly we will conduct survey and interview studies of both compliant and non-compliant doctors to understand their attitudes relating to the requirement to demonstrate their competence. Finally, we will seek solutions to this problem from patients/ public, doctors and other stakeholders.

Our findings will deliver evidence based guidance to the Medical Council, those who run professional competence schemes, employers, indemnifiers, doctors and patients, and will inform efforts to enhance doctors'engagement with regulation of professional competence.


Award Date
24 February 2017
Award Value
Principal Investigator
Dr Deirdre Bennett
Host Institution
University College Cork
Applied Partnership Awards