Law prevents foreign doctor checks

A LEGAL loophole is preventing the Medical Council from checking the professional competence and language skills of doctors arriving in Ireland from other EU countries.

Council president Prof Kieran Murphy said they have called on the Government to change the law.

Because of EU freedom of movement legislation, doctors do not have to prove their language skills or professional competence when applying to the council for registration.

Currently, the council seeks a certificate of good standing from the doctors but that only informs it that they have not come to the attention of the regulatory authorities in their home country for professional misconduct.

Meanwhile, the council has revealed that just one in 10 complaints received last year resulted in a full fitness to practise inquiry.

According to the council’s annual report launched yesterday an inquiry was called in 31 of the 295 complaints received last year.

Evidence in relation to 28 inquiries was heard over a period of 42 days last year with 13 doctors found guilty of professional misconduct. And for the first time, two cases were referred to mediation with the consent of both the complainant and the doctor.

It took around four and a half months from the receipt of a complaint for the council to decide whether or nor an inquiry should be held.

Prof Murphy argued that the number of complaints where an inquiry was called with consistent with international norms.

Prof Murphy said the council took every complaint seriously. “All complaints that may have an impact on patient safety are investigated,” he said.

He added the council also investigated anonymous complaints that represented about 1% of the total.

He said the 2007 Medical Practitioners Act gave the council an opportunity to modernise how the medical profession was regulated.


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