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Sec Gen urged Medical Council to ‘build’ communication

The top official at the Department of Health has urged the Medical Council to “build upon” its communication with the HSE regarding recruitment of poorly qualified doctors.

Mr Jim Breslin was responding to correspondence from Council CEO Mr Bill Prasifka, which highlighted further comments by the High Court President, who said the matter should be brought to the Department’s attention again. 

Mr Prasifka wrote the letter in February after an appearance by the Council before Mr Justice Peter Kelly in relation to confirmation of sanctions hearings, following the outcomes of a number of fitness to practise inquiries.

“One of these cases involved a doctor who was employed in Tallaght University Hospital and Regional Hospital Mullingar and had forged employment references in the names of three consultants,” wrote Mr Prasifka. “The President said the recruitment process in Tallaght Hospital was disturbing given the level of deficiencies in verifying references.”

Mr Justice Peter Kelly

The second case related to a doctor who had been employed in the Rotunda Hospital, Dublin, as an anaesthetics registrar on a six-month contract, “who was lacking in basic competency skills”.

“The President noted that the doctor’s only interview was by Skype and there was no real assessment carried out in respect of her knowledge or skills. Both doctors have had their registration cancelled at the request of the Medical Council.”

The High Court President had also drawn attention to recruitment practice deficits in November 2018 and the Council shared his concerns, according to Mr Prasifka.  

Responding in March, Mr Breslin said the Department had been “actively pursuing with the HSE” issues relating to recruitment of doctors.

He thanked the Council for its ongoing work “in addressing these cases where they do arise” and in bringing matters to the Department’s attention.

“I would urge the Medical Council to ensure that the communication with the HSE you have undertaken is built upon, so that the HSE and health employers generally have the benefit of the Medical Council’s particular expertise through direct and ongoing engagement.”

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