Increased number of medical interns to be recruited earlier to support effort against COVID-19

HSE Press Release: 10 April 2020

1,100 internships to be available for medical school graduates this year

Today (Friday April 10th 2020), the HSE has announced that there will be an increase in the annual intake of medical interns this year, from 734 to approximately 1,100 (depending on how many students pass their final exams and accept an internship offer). The medical interns recruited will take up their posts at the earlier start date of May 18, 2020.  Each post begins with an intern induction week, followed by assignment to clinical posts one week later, for an internship until July 2021.

Prof Frank Murray, Director of National Doctors Training and Planning (NDTP), HSE, explains why the decision was made:  “These new doctors are required in response to the pressures that will undoubtedly face our health service staff in the near future as a result of increased workload, reconfigured and realigned bed capacity, and reduced staffing numbers as a result of sick leave and self-isolation due to COVID-19. We are very grateful to the final medical students, medical schools, Intern Networks, HBS Recruit and the Medical Council for their support.”

In collaboration with the medical schools, the Medical Council of Ireland and the HSE, there will be one intern matching process with all 50 choices explored.

Paul Reid, CEO, HSE, thanked the medical schools and students for their hard work: “The medical schools have worked very hard to make this possible, with final medical exams taking place earlier than usual, and organising ‘virtual conferring ceremonies’ to enable registration of students as interns with the Medical Council of Ireland. The HSE is grateful to the medical schools and all medical students for their support and goodwill in undertaking the exams early and their support in these unprecedented times.”

Dr Colm Henry, Chief Clinical Officer, HSE, echoes this sentiment, “We owe a huge gratitude to the medical schools and our graduate doctors for stepping up to the mark as we prepare our health service for this pandemic. In years to come, they and their families can look back with pride at their role and contribution.  I’d like to offer every assurance that patient safety and intern welfare will be maximised. Interns will not be asked to act beyond their competence or without adequate supervision. A set of guiding principles have been adopted to inform decisions made in this regard.”

It is anticipated that the majority of Intern induction will now take place on-line in the week of May 18-22, 2020. Intern Network Coordinators will consult with clinical sites regarding induction. Employers will issue contracts from the revised start date of May 25, 2020 to the normal end of Internship in July 2021 i.e. 11th July 2021.

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Issued by the HSE National Press Office

Notes to editor:

Guiding Principles:

  • To take urgent steps to facilitate as many eligible candidates as possible (following conferring) to commence the intern year in advance of July 2020
  • To maximise patient safety and intern welfare, using existing accredited posts with effective induction, and ensuring individuals are not asked to act beyond their competence or without adequate supervision
  • Intern network coordinators to ensure that overall rotations meet the requirements of the Medical Council for successful completion of the intern year, with minimum requirements of 3 months in general surgery and 3 months in general medicine
  • All additional posts over and above the normal intake of 734 interns are sanctioned by the Department of Health only for the 2020 – 2021 Intern Year, and as a direct result of the Covid-19 pandemic
  • To use existing systems as far as possible, with only necessary alterations:

-single start date,

- amended duration of contract (to ensure continuity of service provision until July 2021 and fulfilment of the European requirement for length of basic medical education - see below),

  • With regards to basic medical education (Medical School and Internship combined), an internship programme must comply with the requirement in Article 24 of EU Directive 2005/36/EC for programmes of basic medical education. In order to ensure successful completion, the training programme must be a minimum of 5,500 hours of training in a programme of no less than 4 years. With the early conferring (Medical Degrees finishing early) and longer than the usual 12 months of internship, the Medical Council considers that this will enable intern networks to ensure that this statutory requirement is fulfilled.
  • Local health systems to consider whether they might wish to employ prospective Interns, before the start date as an intern - in temporary roles not requiring Medical Council registration (potentially providing preparation for roles they will undertake following commencement of the Internship)
  • Doctors will be titled Interns and hold the terms and conditions agreed with the IMO as part of the existing NCHD Contract applicable to Interns for the duration of their employment.
Last updated on: 10 / 04 / 2020