Medical Council president horrified by Neary report

The President of the Medical Council said tonight he was horrified by the findings of the report into the work of disgraced doctor Michael Neary.

Dr John Hillery said he would call a meeting of the Medical Council as soon as possible and implement any recommendations of the report that fall within its remit.

“The Medical Council regrets that a member of the medical profession could have inflicted such damage and heartache on his patients,” he said.

“The urgency of the need for publication of a new Medical Practitioners Act to give statutory authority to the proposals Council has developed for assessing doctors is highlighted by the findings of Judge Harding Clarke and her team.

“The report outlines the disastrous and sad events that resulted from the actions of Dr Michael Neary.

“The ethical imperative on doctors to deal with incompetent or aberrant practice by colleagues is stated in the current Ethical Guide of the Council. I believe that the new Medical Practitioners Act must give statutory force to this.”

Dr Hillery said all doctors should reflect on the report and co-operate with the assessment system that the Medical Council is introducing on a voluntary basis in the absence of supporting legislation.

“The report highlights the need for a robust assessment and licensing system for hospitals and clinics,” he said.

“The combination of a statutory, mandatory hospital quality assurance system allied to statutory competence assessments for doctors would afford a guarantee to patients in Ireland as regards the quality and safety of the health service they receive.”

Dr Hillery said that in February 1999, less than three weeks after it received specific information about Dr Neary’s activities, the Medical Council successfully applied to the High Court to have his right to practise medicine removed under section 51 of the Act.

“Dr Neary’s name was not reinstated and, after a full Fitness to Practise Inquiry, his name was permanently erased from the Medical Register in July 2003,” he said.

Dr Hillery said the report highlights the need for modern proactive Medical Practitioners legislation to ensure that the regulation of doctors in Ireland is appropriate to modern medical practice and modern philosophies of teamwork and patient centred care.

“In order to facilitate a productive public debate that should result from this report we urge the Tánaiste to publish her proposed Medical Practitioners Bill as soon as possible,” he added.

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