The Medical Council is the statutory body responsible for the regulation of doctors within the Republic of Ireland. As part of this role, the Medical Council is responsible for determining, with the consent of the Minister for Health, the medical specialties that it recognises under the Medical Practitioners Act 2007. The Medical Council currently recognises 58 specialities.

In March 2015, the Medical Council agreed that no new applications for specialty recognition would be considered until a thorough review of the speciality recognition process was conducted. The Medical Council has confirmed that the review of the speciality recognition process has now taken place and has formally reopened the application process. According to the Medical Council, the speciality recognition process has been greatly enhanced and has become a more thorough process which has a greater evidence based focus.

Mr Bill Prasifka, the CEO of the Medical Council, has noted that “The review allowed for an opportunity to ensure that the recognition process continues to meet the needs of the health system, incorporates best practice in the area, and reflects the Medical Council’s priorities in the areas of education and training.”

Some of the amendments to the speciality recognition process include changes to the criteria and process that the Medical Council uses to consider the applications and the availability of a mentor to assist applicants with the process.

As part of the review, it was decided that a new speciality would only be recognised when a need was identified and when the application for recognition is supported by the post graduate training bodies and the HSE National Doctors Training and Planning. Once the Medical Council recognises the proposed speciality, they will apply for Ministerial approval from the Minister for Health. Once Ministerial approval is granted, the proposed speciality achieves formal recognition.

The President of the Medical Council, Dr Rita Doyle has welcomed the changes and said “I welcome the reopening of the applications process for specialty recognition. This is an important development for the recognition of new specialities to greater enhance doctor training opportunities in Ireland while better serving our patients.”

The Medical Council has released a guide to the application process for speciality recognition which can be viewed here.