Irish Journal of Medical Science

, Volume 179, Issue 1, pp 3–7 | Cite as

Changing governance, governing change: medical regulation in Ireland

  • B. D. KellyEmail author
Review Article


The perceived need for the regulation of the medical profession is rooted in the nature and history of medicine. This paper summarizes theories of professional regulation and explores recent developments in medical regulation in Ireland, through description of background theories of professional regulation and analysis of recent developments in Ireland. Medical self-regulation is the subject of ongoing controversy owing to (1) the complex nature of medical practice; (2) informed service users; (3) identification of alleged anti-competitive practices; (4) apparent restrictions on entry to the profession; (5) the public/private mix in Irish healthcare; and (6) high-profile cases that resulted in enquiries into standards of practice. Measures being implemented to address these challenges include reforms in medical education, a new contract of employment for consultants, and enhanced schemes for continuing medical education. Broader societal trends are presenting new challenges that highlight the need for flexible regulatory frameworks in medicine.


Physicians Health professions Professional autonomy Government regulation Social control, formal 


Conflict of interest statement

There is no conflict of interest to declare.


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Copyright information

© Royal Academy of Medicine in Ireland 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Adult PsychiatryUniversity College Dublin, Mater Misericordiae University HospitalDublin 7Ireland

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