Medical Council of New Zealand

Strengthening recertification for vocationally registered doctors

The Medical Council of New Zealand held a consultation on strengthening recertification for vocationally registered doctors between January and March 2017. We responded on 20 March 2017, based on member feedback which will continue to inform the College's direction of travel.

This work will have important implications for the College and College members.

Some of the key made in our response are:

  • The College is committed to improving its continuing professional development (CPD) programme to promote patient safety, better patient outcomes and practice improvement.
  • The College supports the principles for recertification put forward by the Council in 2016. However, we are concerned that the proposal in this consultation document goes considerably beyond a principle-based approach. The requirements in the proposal are presented in a prescriptive manner which suggest that little flexibility, if any, will be allowed in interpretation. We are not clear whether this is the Council’s intention and ask that this be clarified and flexibility incorporated where possible.
  • The consultation paper does not make a clear distinction between the role of the Council as a regulator and the role of the College as an educational institution. It appears that the Council is devolving its responsibility as a regulator to the medical colleges. We suggest including the Council’s role in recertification in the final document.
  • The College’s 2016 workforce survey showed that 22 percent of general practitioners (GPs) feel burnt-out. Our members are already under a large compliance burden, involving achievement of health targets, Primary Health Organisation (PHO) reporting, and practice accreditation processes and mandatory requirements. It is important that any new recertification requirements are not overly onerous, are simple to achieve and do not increase administrative or compliance loads. College members have indicated the potential for the requirements to drive GPs into early retirement. We are concerned that a major change to the programme could be the tipping point for the current critical workforce shortages in general practice.
  • We are concerned that the evidence-base for proposals made in the document has not been presented. Where these proposals are far-reaching, this evidence is surely crucial. In particular, we consider that a full literature review should be included for the use and value of the professional development plan (PDP) in post-qualification continuing development programmes for professionals, the value of an annual conversation as a form of peer review, the value of the regular practice review (RPR) process in different scopes and contexts, and the basis for, and effects of, age differentiation.
  • We ask the Council to note that the general practice context is significantly different from that of other medical specialties which are more procedural-focussed and/or based in a hospital context. Some elements of the proposal, if applied prescriptively, would not fit well in the general practice context.

You can read our response in full.

Follow up from MCNZ

in August 2017, the Medical Council of New Zealand wrote to us and other stakeholders after analysing the consultation responses. MCNZ resolved to undertake further engagement and discussion with the profession as a next step.