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HSE recruitment practices ‘patient safety issue’, Doyle tells Minister

The President of the Medical Council Dr Rita Doyle raised “concerns” regarding HSE recruitment practices directly with the Minister for Health Simon Harris in February, according to correspondance seen by the Medical Independent following a Freedom of Information request. She wrote that the “procedures relating to the recruitment of doctors” was “now a patient safety issue”.

The 7 February letter by Dr Doyle was prompted by comments from the President of the High Court Mr Justice Peter Kelly regarding HSE recruitment practices.

“The Medical Council appeared before the President of the High Court on Monday 4 February, seeking confirmation of the High Court of sanctions recommended against doctors, following the outcome of a number of fitness to practise inquiries,” Dr Doyle wrote. “The President in confirming two cancellations of doctors registration, took the opportunity to comment on HSE recruitment and candidate vetting procedures.”

According to Dr Doyle, the High Court President stated that “the Department [of Health] must be concerned about how patients can have confidence in the recruitment of doctors when firstly, there are significant defects in the validation system for references and, secondly, when there would also seem to be significant defects in the assessment of clinical knowledge and skills as part of the recruitment process”.

She wrote that the Council shared Mr Justice Kelly’s concerns and had dealt with “several serious complaints either stemming from, or related to, poor recruitment practices”.

“Although the Medical Council has no role in the employment of doctors, or the procedures relating to the recruitment of doctors, this is now a patient safety issue, which we are keen to assist the Department of Health in addressing ,” she added.

In a response dated 29 March, Minister Harris wrote that he shared the highlighted concerns. He stated that his Department had been “actively pursuing with the HSE issues relating to the recruitment of doctors, NCHDs, and consultants, over the past 12 months”.

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