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Medical Council launches public consultation on rules governing new performance procedures

Thursday 27th October 2011

New procedures to be introduced for the handling of concerns about doctors’ performance

The Medical Council has today begun a period of public consultation as part of its development of rules to establish new procedures for assessing the performance of doctors. The Medical Council aims to protect patient safety.  These procedures will provide a further option for the Medical Council in handling concerns about doctors and will stand alongside the Council’s existing health and disciplinary proceedings, which include Fitness to Practise Inquiries.

These new performance procedures will be in place by the end of the year, allowing for an assessment of a doctor’s performance where concerns have been raised and providing a basis to address these concerns.  Performance procedures will complement rather than replace existing procedures and will be used in instances where Council decides that the most effective way to manage concerns about a doctor is to assess performance and oversee action to bring about the recommended improvements in their practice.

Launching the consultation today, Professor Kieran Murphy, President of the Medical Council said: “Patient safety is the Medical Council’s main priority and we are anxious to ensure that our procedures provide adequate options to the Council to respond effectively to the range of complaints we receive."

"The introduction of new performance procedures will enhance and expand the effectiveness of our response to concerns about doctors’ practice, as it will allow for a comprehensive assessment of a doctor’s performance and provide a basis to address concerns. It is important that the public and members of the medical profession have the opportunity to shape these rules by getting involved in the consultation process”.

Under the draft rules, if it is recommended that a doctor participate in the new performance procedures, an independent panel of assessors will conduct on-site assessments, observing interactions with patients and reviewing performance in practice. The team will then make recommendations on requirements the doctor must fulfil in order to improve their professional competence. 

Caroline Spillane, CEO of the Medical Council, explained: “Performance procedures have been developed to benchmark against international best practice, and rules will be finalised following consultation with the Irish public and medical profession.  These new procedures will be in place by the end of the year and will provide an additional tool to the Council which the public and the profession can have full confidence in.”

The period for the public consultation will run for three weeks from today, Thursday, 27th October 2011, until Friday 18th November 2011.  Members of the public and the medical profession are invited to view the draft rules and send submissions to the Medical Council using a submission form which can be downloaded at www.medicalcouncil.ie.  All submissions received by 18th November will be considered before a final decision is made by Council.

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For further information contact:
Lorna Farren, Communications Manager
Telephone: +353 1 4983173
Email: lfarren@mcirl.ie