The Complaints Process
The Council responds to complaints made about doctors using a fair and robust process. Any person (including the Council) can make a complaint to the Council about a doctor. This includes members of the public, the HSE, employers, doctors and healthcare staff. Employers have greater insights into doctors’ practice, and a Medical Council study found that complaints from the HSE and other healthcare organisations were more likely to proceed to a Fitness to Practise Inquiry and were also more likely to result in a finding about the doctor’s practise. However, only 3% of complaints made to the Medical Council were from the HSE and other healthcare organisations. While some complaints may be best addressed locally, complaints relating to a doctor's fitness to practise medicine should be brought to the attention of the Medical Council.
Why should healthcare organisations, healthcare staff and employers of doctors make a complaint?
If you have concerns that a doctor's conduct or competence may be a risk to patient safety you should inform the Council as soon as possible.
Examples of such conduct/competence include:
- professional performance below the standard that can be reasonably expected as demonstrated, for example, by serious or repeated mistakes in diagnosing or treating a patient's condition (Important notice on complaints amounting to poor professional performance)
- mis-prescribing medication (e.g. benzodiazepines or opiates excessively)
- failure to examine patients properly or respond to reasonable requests for treatment
- treating patients without properly obtaining their consent
- behaving dishonestly
- carrying out inappropriate examinations or making inappropriate contact with patients
- misusing alcohol or drugs
The Council's complaints process does not replace local procedures or the responsibility of the organisation to investigate complaints about doctors and to protect the public where necessary. Therefore, if you are a manager in a healthcare organisation or healthcare professional, you should also inform the appropriate organisation/clinical director at a local level if you have concerns about a doctor.
The Council recognises that healthcare organisations and healthcare staff, including doctors, and employers of doctors are often best placed to determine whether a doctor's conduct/competence may pose a risk to patients or others.
In addition, if you are a doctor, you have an obligation pursuant to the Guide to Professional Conduct and Ethics for Registered Medical Practitioners, to inform the Medical Council of concerns about a colleague's conduct or competence without delay where there is a risk to patient safety.
Is a complaint a protected disclosure?
A complaint to the Medical Council is a protected disclosure pursuant to the Health Act, 2004. This provides protection, from civil liability and from penalisation by an employer to a person, who makes a complaint in good faith to the Medical Council and where a person has reasonable grounds for believing that a doctor has posed, is posing or is likely to pose a risk to the health, safety and welfare of the public.
In addition, under the Medical Practitioners Act, 2007, in respect of any action for defamation the proceedings of the Preliminary Proceedings Committee and the Fitness to Practise Committee are absolutely privileged, except in the case of a document that is the subject of an allegation that it has not been made in good faith.
If you have any queries about whether to make a complaint to the Medical Council you should contact the Professional Standards Department of the Medical Council by e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. If you want further information about making healthcare complaints and the organisations that consider healthcare complaints, please visit healthcomplaints.ie. This website has been developed for people who use health and social care services in Ireland as well as for families, care givers and advocates.
How to make a complaint
You can make a complaint by submitting a complaint form. The form should be completed in writing and can be emailed or sent by post to the details below:
We ask that you provide as much detail, information and documentation as possible within your complaint form.