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GPs at NEDOC will no longer attend Garda stations for fitness to interview assessments

The decision was made at the co-op’s recent AGM amid ongoing medico-legal concerns.

GPs at the meeting highlighted the risks faced by GPs in managing the increasing requirements by An Garda Síochána, with GPs being contacted out-of-hours to conduct fitness to interview assessments and to dispense or supervise the taking of medication.

Delegates at the meeting agreed that fitness to interview assessments are not an area in which they have expertise and advised that this should be undertaken in-house by trained medical officers.

Doctors were similarly advised not to put themselves at risk in dispensing medication at Garda stations following increasing requests to do so. It is not possible for GPs to accurately identify all medications, nor is it possible to know for certain what other substances a person in custody may already have taken, the meeting heard.

It was stated that GPs have no specific training for Garda work compared to the UK, where medical officers are employed by the police service. 

GPs in Ireland do not receive any guidelines from An Garda Síochána in respect of assessing whether a person is fit for interview.

Meanwhile, GPs were in agreement that they would support the Garda drink-driving campaigns where the demands of the service allowed.

Requests are often made to GPs during out-of-hours to attend Garda stations to take a blood test from a person suspected of drink-driving in situations where an individual may be refusing to give a urine sample or when gardaí are not trained in the use of intoxilyzer equipment.

NEDOC Medical Director Dr Illona Duffy stated that she had met with the chief superintendents of the region to outline the role and position of NEDOC in relation to fitness to interview assessments and the dispensing of medication.

She was advised doctors are only called to suspected drink-driving incidents in the event that there are issues with the testing equipment in Garda stations.

An Garda Síochána issued a tender last May seeking to establish panels of medical professionals nationwide to provide a medical call-out service on a 24-hour basis, 365 days of the year.

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