Dr John Hillery warned that updating the way doctors were regulated, while welcome, would not deliver good healthcare on its own.
Without a functioning health service the Medical Practitioners Act wouldonly be window dressing to distract from the real problems preventing goodpatient care, the doctor told a medical conference in London today.
“The health service and its administration must also be accountable and must have independent monitoring,” said Dr Hillery, a candidate on the National University of Ireland panel for Seanad Éireann.
The public must beassured that the service the public purse pays for isdelivering to those in need on the basis of need, he said.
Dr Hillery, president of the International Association of Medical Regulatory Authorities, believes the health service needs an independent regulator. “If the Government introduced a regulator for health service delivery the new Medical Council would stand as a strong pillar of a modern health service that deserves the trust of its patients and of its staff,” he said.
Dr Hillery told the conference organised by the Medical Protection Society — the indemnity body for doctors — that the new Medical Practitioners Act would be implemented soon with the return of Mary Harney as Health Minister.
The act obliges doctors to show they are keeping up to date. It also provides increased powers for the council in accrediting medical education and a much increased non-medical presence on the council with a possible lay majority.
Dr Hillery said Irish medicine had been hit by negative publicity in the last few years.
And, he said, efforts by the Medical Council to put the profession in a positive light with the development of voluntary schemes of competence assurance was met by loud protests by some doctors’ representatives that led to a poor uptake by doctors in general.