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Council examining doctor ethics following Scally report

By Mindo - 13th Mar 2019

Doctor's oath

Two short-life Medical Council working groups are examining the role and conduct of doctors, and “other areas such as the ethical guide” on foot of the Scally Scoping Inquiry into CervicalCheck.

The groups were established following an extraordinary Council meeting last October.

Asked for an update on their work, a Council spokesperson said the groups “are working closely together to review different aspects of the Scally report”.

In a response to the Medical Independent (MI) last month, the Council spokesperson said the 221+ steering group, which represents those affected by the cervical cancer controversy, had “kindly accepted an invitation to meet the President [Dr Rita Doyle] and the members of the working group [examining the ethical guide/other issues] in the coming weeks”.

“In addition to this, the working group will also have the opportunity to meet with the HSE Open Disclosure National Lead, who has been invited to meet with the working group.”

Asked about any specific complaints against doctors in respect of the CervicalCheck controversy, the spokesperson said the Council “does not comment on individual matters or complaints”.

The Scally report was highly critical of the section on open disclosure in the Council’s ethical guide. According to the report, the interests of patients and families were not at the centre of the guide’s approach on open disclosure. It noted a section that began with the statement: “Open disclosure is supported within a culture of candour.”

“However, the rest of the sub-section appears to focus primarily on being supportive towards medical colleagues being investigated in relation to adverse events.” The report also said the guide created uncertainty about whether open disclosure was the right approach.  It recommended that “the Department of Health should enter into discussions with the Medical Council with the aim of strengthening the guide for registered medical practitioners so that it is placed beyond doubt that doctors must promote and practice open disclosure”.

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