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Council discussed ‘position’ on Ombudsman’s remarks

However, a Council spokesperson told the Medical Independent (MI) last week that “the jurisdiction of the Ombudsman is a matter for the Government”.

At a meeting of the Council in July 2016, media articles were discussed that outlined the Ombudsman Mr Peter Tyndall’s hope that legislation be amended to allow his office to examine complaints related to clinical judgement.

Council member Ms Katharine Bulbulia requested that a transcript be circulated to members of an RTÉ radio interview with Mr Tyndall, according to meeting minutes. “Ms Bulbulia further advised that the Council needs to be provided with clarity in relation to the Council’s position in this regard.” Ms Bulbulia proposed that a position paper be prepared “setting out the specific roles” of the Council and HIQA “to provide clarity on this issue”.

On The Ray D’Arcy Show, Mr Tyndall had said the Medical Council’s role was to determine doctors’ fitness to practise. “Quite often, something can go wrong in the treatment of an individual which would cast no doubt whatsoever on the ability of a doctor to practise, so there is a big gap at the moment… ” Mr Tyndall said.

He said lack of “proper mechanisms” to enable people to complain meant that issues may not be dealt with at an early stage and would “continue to go wrong until it becomes a scandal”.

Last week, a spokesperson for the Ombudsman told MI the Department of Health is “engaged in a consultation process with interested parties on the question of the Ombudsman being granted clinical judgement jurisdiction”. Any amendment to Ombudsman legislation will be a matter for the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform.

“The Ombudsman has received no written communication or position paper from the Medical Council in relation to the reference in its minutes of July 2016,” they added. “The Ombudsman is aware that the Medical Council is considering the issue of the Ombudsman and clinical judgement.”

A Department of Health spokesperson acknowledged the Ombudsman’s recommendation for an expanded remit.

The Department will shortly commence work on a complaints/advocacy policy, examining national and international approaches. 

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