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Law ‘won’t provide extra powers’— Council

The CEO of the Medical Council has emphasised that a proposed legal amendment, allowing him to initially review complaints against doctors, will not result in the CEO having “additional powers over the profession”.

Speaking to the Medical Independent, Mr Bill Prasifka said the amendment would simply mean that all complaints will not have to be reviewed by the preliminary proceedings committee (PPC), as currently prescribed by law.

“There has been one element of misunderstanding. Somehow, some members of the profession are not in favour of this, as they have the mistaken impression that it gives the CEO some additional powers over the profession. It doesn’t,” explained Mr Prasifka.

“It simply means we can deal with things on a more informal basis from the moment of inception and can make a determination, for example, that there is no prima facie case; that there is no reason for it to go forward.”

He continued: “If we decide it’s a serious matter, it needs to go forward, but then it goes through the same framework it does now. So before any doctor can face any sort of repercussions, it has to go through the PPC, it has to go through fitness to practise; there is no shortcutting of that. We think from the profession’s point of view, it is entirely desirable that this amendment is pushed through.”

Under the proposed amendment, following the receipt of a complaint, the Council CEO will “have the complaint investigated and will appoint an authorised officer to investigate the complaint,” according to an explanatory memorandum to the Regulated Professions (Health and Social Care) (Amendment) Bill 2019. The authorised officer will prepare a report for the CEO.

If a complaint is withdrawn, the CEO can decide on whether to proceed or if no further action should be taken. 

The Bill completed second stage in April and it is expected that committee stage will take place shortly after the summer recess, according to the Department of Health.

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