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83 fitness to practise cases await hearing

Some 83 cases are waiting to be heard by fitness to practise (FTP) inquiry at the Medical Council.

Of these 83 referrals from the preliminary proceedings committee, 22 cases are ready to “proceed to be heard at this time by the committee”, according to a Council spokesperson.

There is no statute of limitations or similar restrictions applicable to these cases, according to the regulator. Last month, the Council was at “an advanced stage” in terms of preparing to hold FTP inquiries in line with physical distancing requirements.

“The public health restrictions relating to Covid-19 have had a significant
impact in relation to holding fitness to practise inquiries since the start of the pandemic restrictions in March,” stated the spokesperson.

“There has been three fitness to practise committee callovers which took place virtually over the Zoom platform and four cases have concluded by way of section 67 undertakings following consideration by the committee.

“Work is at an advanced stage to hold inquiries in line with physical distancing requirements. Inquiries will take place in Kingram House in the inquiry room which is being adapted to address the new requirements.

Larger inquiries may take place in another location outside of Kingram House and several options have been sourced. A number of options for inquiries have been explored and they will take place in person or in a hybrid model of in person with some witnesses contributing virtually.”

The Council said the priority in resuming inquiries is the health and safety
of all parties.

In 2019, there were 34 FTP inquiries completed, and 71 pending by the end of the year. The average number of days per inquiry was 2.2. During the year, the Council also received a record number of complaints (431).

The number of practitioners subject to complaints was 485, representing around 2 per cent of all doctors, which is consistent with previous years.

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