Irish Medical Organisation

Medical Council Consultation - Draft Rules on Professional Procedures for addressing Concerns about a Doctor's Performance - Nov 2011

The Medical Council draft rules set out new Professional Procedures which will be used to address concerns about the performance of a doctor, as an alternative course of action to a Fitness to Practice hearing.  The procedures include an assessment of the practitioner’s professional competence followed by an action plan for remediation where performance is found to be unsatisfactory.

In the submission to the Medical Council the IMO pointed out that:

  • The exact criteria which would lead to referral by the Preliminary Proceedings Committee to a professional competence assessment must be clarified. 
  • Patient confidentiality and patient consent must be respected in the procedure.
  • The PRES examination may not be an appropriate test depending on a doctors scope of practice.

Concerns were also raised about the cost and duration of these procedures:

  • Rule 6 places a responsibility on the practitioner to potentially meet all the costs which may be substantial. It is unclear if such costs would be covered by the Professional Indemnity Bodies.
  • The costs of the medical council review process should be carried by the medical council while in some cases retraining or remediation costs should be borne by the employer. There is a responsibility on the HSE specifically to support the Practitioner in meeting the requirements of the Act in relation to Maintaining Professional Competence.
  • Self employed doctors e.g. general practitioners should not be additionally and disproportionately penalised through costs when complying with procedures and activities under these rules. Equally the HSE should be responsible for costs for GPs with a GMS contract.
  • Doctors in private practice (either GPs or specialists) and recently qualified doctors are likely to be further disproportionally affected by these procedures. 
  • The Rules should be constructed and enacted so as to be equally and fairly applicable to EU and international graduates registered in Ireland.

The IMO also again called for a review of Section 94 Subsection (1) of the Medical Practitioners Act with a view to agreeing a process whereby retired doctors can be permitted to remain on the Medical Register.

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