Monitoring Professional Competence

Author:Mr Tom Hayes

It has recently been confirmed that the Medical Council will seek to verify that every medical practitioner who is the subject of a complaint to the Medical Council has complied with their professional competence obligations. this verification process will take place irrespective of whether the complaint is well grounded.

If a practitioner fails to maintain their professional competence, they may find themselves the subject of a separate Medical Council complaint and subsequent disciplinary action. Consequently, practitioners should ensure that they remain up to date in respect of their professional competency obligations.

Practitioner's obligations

Registered medical practitioners have a legal duty to maintain their professional competence in accordance with the standards set by the Medical Council on an ongoing basis.

To satisfy this duty, practitioners must enrol in professional competence schemes operated by approved postgraduate medical training bodies. The selection of suitable courses is self-directed and the selected schemes must be relevant to the practitioner's education, training, competence and current practice. The Medical Council has published guidelines to assist practitioners in selecting suitable schemes.

The annual professional competence requirements are available from the Medical Council. Essentially, a practitioner must complete at least 50 hours per year of continuing professional development, incorporating a number of activities including teaching or research, maintaining knowledge and skills, and practice evaluation.

An annual clinical self-audit must be undertaken by practitioners. the clinical audit is a self-reflective review of a practitioner's practice and incorporates activities such as skills analysis, review of patient satisfaction and self-assessment.

It is recommended that practitioners spend one hour per month on professional competence activities.

Monitoring and verifying professional competence

The Medical Council has a duty to monitor practitioners' compliance with their professional competence obligations. The Council has implemented a system based on self-assessment to discharge this duty. The Council also has extensive supplemental powers to ensure compliance. a professional competence verification request may arise following an annual declaration of compliance by a practitioner, or on foot of a complaint to the Medical Council.

Annual declaration

Under the Rules for the Maintenance of Professional...

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