The Department of Health has confirmed that 120 additional medical intern places will be available in July of this year.
The Minister for Health confirmed that the State will offer a total of 854 medical intern posts, along with additional postgraduate training places and permanent fellowship posts for senior doctors.
Some 734 posts were offered to medical graduates each year until 2020, when the HSE announced an extra 300 posts amid the Covid-19 pandemic.
However, the Government faced recent pushback when it emerged that the extra posts had been introduced as an “emergency measure” only and would not be retained in 2021.
“I am pleased that we are now in a position to significantly increase the medical training places in a more permanent way that is aligned with workforce planning and the future needs of our health and social care services,” Health Minister Stephen Donnelly said.
“As we are coming out of the third wave of Covid-19 and the focus will return to the challenges of our health service, there needs to be a focus on the continued recruitment of senior doctors to meet demands.”
Increased training pathways
The increased number of intern places will be accompanied by increases in postgraduate training places, the next step in a doctor’s training pathway following completion of an internship.
This will see the establishment of 12 “De Novo” training posts and the conversion of 40 non-training posts to training posts. This is in addition to the already approved increase of 114 training posts across postgraduate training programmes for the July 2021 intake.
The Department of Health said the additional training posts will “ultimately support the delivery of shorter waiting times, the reduction of inappropriate hospital admissions, improved patient flow, and earlier discharge of patients.”
The Department also confirmed the permanent establishment of 40 one-year Post CSCST Fellowship posts, after the HSE had previously announced they would be established on a “once-off” basis this July.
These fellowship posts will be filled by senior doctors who have completed training to develop key skills within the health service, as well as continuing to support the Covid effort.
The new measures are estimated to cost approximately €11.4 million over the next two years, with €4.4 million to be funded in 2021.
The Department said the HSE would undertake a formal review of the number of intern posts and postgraduate training positions over the coming months “to ensure the number of intern places are in line with future medical workforce planning requirements.”
The HSE’s chief clinical officer, Dr Colm Henry, said the health service was committed to increasing training posts.
“We will continue to work towards this goal through appropriate increases in the number of intern and postgraduate training posts, in line with medical workforce requirements while ensuring training capacity, supervision and standards are maintained,” he said.