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The proposer of the motion, Co Carlow GP Dr Pascal O’Dea, told the Medical Independent (MI) that he “would hope the Minister would take it into account and to consider it with his Department”.
The motion calls for the introduction of a “tiered complaints process so that complaints [against doctors] are categorised according to the severity of the complaint”.
It also said the identity of a doctor should be protected during the investigation of any complaint “pending any adverse finding upon which the identity and sanction will be made public”.
Speaking strongly in favour of the motion, Dublin GP Dr Ray Walley said, currently, major and minor complaints are given the same mode of categorisation. “Attention that is given to the complaints means that for the medical practitioner, you are effectively guilty until proven innocent. This goes against natural law.”
Dr Walley pointed to a BMJ study that highlighted a number of suicides among UK doctors facing complaints at the General Medical Council.
“In that context, we are asking for a more humane system for our medical practitioners,” said Dr Walley.
The motion was unanimously passed and afterwards, speaking to MI, the proposer Dr O’Dea said: “I think we have heard some very compelling arguments.
“If you look at the stats from the UK, the suicide rate that is attributed to doctors who have attended hearings at the equivalent council is quite frightening.
“This is a huge issue for GPs, if you go by the anecdotal evidence from GP social media forums…The number of hits on the GP forum on this issue is in the thousands, while other topics might get hundreds.
“The stats would indicate that any doctor in their career could expect to receive one or two complaints at least.”
He told MI it was time that the Minister and Medical Council introduced a “less stressful system”, adding that this would also be in “the complainant’s interest”.
Separately, the IMO passed a motion calling for a new committee comprised solely of doctors to oversee the Medical Council to ensure that it is cost-effective.
“The Medical Council is funded by doctors’ subscriptions,” said Dr Matthew Sadlier, who supported the motion. “We have to be one of the few groups in society that is solely funding an organisation [where] we have absolutely no power to control the cost-effectiveness of its service.”
Dr Sadlier also questioned whether the Council needed to be based in Dublin 2 and if another location could be more cost-effective.