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According to minutes of a Department of Health governance meeting with the Council last October, obtained by MI under Freedom of Information legislation, “[the] CEO to carry out initial investigation of complaints instead of PPC”. It is referenced in a section on the “Regulated Health Professions Bill 2017”, which will “provide for a large number of amendments to the Medical Practitioners Act”.
The Council declined to provide further detail on the matter, with a spokesperson commenting that “this proposal depends on future legislative amendments”.
A Department spokesperson told MI the proposal “is part of the deliberative legislative process, examining amendments which are aimed at enhancing how complaints are managed by the Council”.
According to the Council’s website, the PPC considers all complaints received by the regulator, but only complaints within its remit are further investigated. “For example, allegations of a doctor being rude, while unacceptable, may not reach the threshold of seriousness to give rise to poor professional performance/professional misconduct, and so the Medical Council cannot usefully assist in such matters. A complaint could be referred onto the Fitness to Practise Committee if they find the complaint warrants further action,” states the material.
Meanwhile, it is also proposed to create a “separate register” for interns.
Currently, interns are registered on the Register of General Medical Practitioners and “placing them on a separate register would provide better visibility of intern doctors to those who wish to check the register”, outlined the Department’s spokesperson.
“Intern training provides a combination of education, training and clinical responsibility, enabling interns to develop the professional and personal competencies that result in good patient care and provide a foundation for life-long learning,” the spokesperson said.
The Council said the intern proposal “is subject to ongoing discussions around legislative amendments” and it could not comment further at this time.