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It is anticipated that amendments to the Medical Practitioners Act 2007 will allow for some complaints against doctors to be resolved at earlier stages by non-adversarial means.
Currently, all complaints must be investigated by the Council’s Preliminary Proceedings Committee (PPC), which decides whether to refer the complaint to the Fitness to Practise Committee. The present legal framework does not provide for early-stage mediation, for example.
Asked if performance assessments would have an enhanced future role, Mr Prasifka noted that the statutory instrument in question sets out a range of areas that can be examined.
“And many of the performance assessments we have done in the past have more or less been the full suite for individual doctors. What we are attempting to do is devise more non-adversarial means of dispute resolution.
“So, just one example: if an issue arises with a doctor’s communication skills, rather than sending them through a whole suite of performance assessments, why not send them off on a communications course, and then have some sort of monitoring and mentoring,” he told MI.
The intent is to have a “whole suite of remedial measures” that could be contracted out to training bodies or various other organisations. The Council would also develop expertise within its executive.
Meanwhile, in October the Council will publish “a very comprehensive report” on non-enrolment in professional competence schemes.
Mr Prasifka said it was “a significant concern” that cohorts of doctors were not enrolled in schemes or were enrolled, but not fulfilling the requirements.
“We are looking for the stakeholders themselves to do their role, employers should be monitoring their doctors, ensuring not only that they are taking the full complement but facilitating that – this is a requirement under the [Medical Practitioners] Act, the Act says specifically that the HSE must facilitate doctors doing their professional competency,” he told MI.