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Interns to be registered separately on medical register

Interns will have a separate section on the medical register under a recently published Bill.

The Regulated Professions (Health and Social Care) (Amendment) Bill 2019 provides “for the new register of interns which will have the names of interns and other appropriate information”, according to an explanatory memorandum.

“The current provision in relation to interns on the Trainee Specialist Division will cease, and there is also a provision for the phasing-out of interns currently registered in the Trainee Specialist Division after five years.”

The Medical Independent (MI) first reported on the proposal in February 2018, with a Department of Health spokesperson stating that placing interns on a separate register “would provide better visibility of intern doctors to those who wish to check the register”.

As also reported by MI last year, the Bill provides for the Council CEO to investigate complaints against doctors, rather than the Preliminary Proceedings Committee (PPC).

According to the explanatory memorandum, the Council CEO will, “following receipt of a complaint, have the complaint investigated and will appoint an authorised officer to investigate the complaint. The authorised officer will investigate the complaint and prepare a report for the Chief Executive Officer.”

 The authorised officer may require the complainant to verify or provide more information regarding a complaint.

“The medial practitioner, who is the subject of the complaint, will be notified of the complaint by the authorised officer, who can require the medical practitioner to provide information. The medical practitioner may provide the authorised officer with any information that needs to be considered by the Preliminary Proceedings Committee or the Fitness to Practise Committee.”

 If a complaint is withdrawn, the CEO can decide on whether to proceed or that no further action is to be taken. The CEO can also compel the production of records and can get the medical records of a patient.

The Bill deletes the functions of the PPC in relation to investigating complaints. Instead, the Committee will consider the investigation report and any other information from the CEO.

The draft legislation also provides that practitioners have the right to appeal to the High Court when minor sanctions of advice, admonishment or a censure in writing have been imposed.

A Department spokesperson told MI “it is intended to progress this Bill though the Oireachtas as soon as possible”.

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