Rogue doctors cannot be forced to take part in new random checks by the Irish Medical Council, it emerged today.
Assessors will examine up to 1,000 medics who have finished their training, including GPs, hospital consultants and public health doctors.
The system will start this summer on a voluntary basis pending the introduction of long-promised legislation to update the powers of the Irish Medical Council.
Irish Medical Council president Dr John Hillery said most doctors were willing to take part but it could not compel everybody to participate under current laws.
“Most Irish doctors are willing to take part in this. Our fitness to practise procedures are very reactive and this is a proactive process,” he said.
“What we’re looking for is to the ability to check doctors on an everyday basis, and if people give us mild causes for concern, to check their practice. That is something we cannot do without new legislation.”
The Medical Council is the statutory body charged with protecting the public interest by ensuring doctors meet professional standards in their work.
The review will involve questionnaires being sent to some of the doctors’ patients, colleagues and employer.
Reports of the assessments will be sent to a Medical Council committee, which will decide if a doctor is meeting the required standards.
Dr Hillery said: “If there are serious misgivings resulting from the answers to the questionnaires, feedback will be given to the doctor but a decision will be made to take a more intensive look at the doctor’s practice.
“That will involve trained assessors in each case, some of whom will be non-doctors.”
Dr Hillery said the scheme had been planned for a number of years and was a higher tier in the current investigation system.
He denied it was a knee-jerk reaction to falling public confidence in the medical profession.
“We’re going to start from the summer onwards and we have engaged with trainers from other countries to come to train assessors here,” he told RTE Radio.