Medical Council News


New Procedures Developed for Assessing Doctors' Performance

New Procedures Developed for Assessing Doctors’ Performance

The Medical Council today (30th January 2012) published details of new procedures for assessing doctors’ performance.   The new procedures will strengthen the Medical Council’s regulatory role and will involve on-site assessments of doctors’ performance for the first time.  Doctors selected for participation in the procedures will be assessed by an independent team of two medical doctors and one patient representative who will conduct on-site assessments, observe interactions with patients and review performance in practice. In many cases, assessment will confirm good practice while in those cases where problems are identified, the procedures will also provide support to the doctor to ensure that such problems are safely resolved. 

The new procedures are underpinned by rules which have been published today in conjunction with guidance for doctors.  This follows a consultation process conducted in late 2011 through which the Medical Council sought views from the public, the profession and other stakeholders on how the new procedures for assessing doctor’s performance should be operated. 

Speaking today, Professor Kieran Murphy, President of the Medical Council said: “New performance procedures will further enhance the Medical Council’s processes in protecting the public.  This marks the culmination of a number of years of development work and is a further safeguard which will help to both protect patients and to promote good professional practice among doctors.  While doctors endeavour to provide safe, high quality care, sometimes performance problems may arise.  Performance assessment will not replace other procedures which the Medical Council already has in place, but will allow us to work in a more targeted and effective way with doctors who are experiencing problems in some aspects of their practice”.

In a survey of over 350 doctors, 80% felt that the introduction of performance assessments would modernise and strengthen the role of the Medical Council in protecting the public and supporting good professional practice.    

Professor Murphy added: “The Medical Council’s role is to protect patients and in doing so, to support the professional practice of doctors.  These two activities are closely linked and while these measures are primarily designed to safeguard the public, they are also welcomed by doctors as a support to assist them in achieving and maintaining good professional practice.” 

A panel of assessors has been carefully selected and rigorously trained by the Medical Council.  Medical assessors have been selected across a range of specialties, while non-medical assessors will represent the views of patients.  To begin, the panel has been established with approximately 30 assessors, and will develop further as the new procedures become operational.  Each assessment team will be comprised of two medics and one patient representative and will conduct a workplace based assessment of the doctor’s performance using a set of assessment methods which have been benchmarked against international best practice.  The team will then compile a report for consideration by the Medical Council, who will then decide on what action (if any) is necessary in each case for the doctor. 

Speaking about the new procedures, Chief Executive of the Medical Council, Caroline Spillane said:  “Procedures have been developed based on international best practice and have been adapted to the Irish context to take into account the views of patients, doctors and employers.  Performance procedures will be focused on ensuring the competence of doctors in practice in Ireland by providing an independent and fair assessment of whether the doctor’s practice meets the standards of competence that can reasonably be expected.  The safety of patients is the main focus of these procedures and they will provide an evidence based approach to addressing any areas of poor performance.”

Onsite assessments of doctors’ practices will commence by the end of Q1 2012.  The rules and guidelines underpinning the new procedures are available for download at


For further information contact:
Lorna Farren
Medical Council Communications Manager
01 498 3173/ 087 9130288