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Survey shows public back legal protection for doctors

Doctors who have acted in “good faith during the Covid-19 crisis, should not have to worry about future prosecution or investigation in relation to their treatment of patients during the Covid-19 crisis”, according to 84 per cent of the public.

In a YouGov survey of 1001 Ireland adults, commissioned by the Medical Protection Society (MPS), a further 71 per cent of the public believe that doctors should not be held personally accountable if a patient comes to harm due to delayed referrals or non Covid-19 services being unavailable or limited.

MPS is calling on the Government to introduce such laws for doctors, and for the Irish Medical Council to offer greater reassurance that doctors will not be subjected to regulatory action following decisions made in good faith during the crisis.

“Doctors have worked in uniquely challenging circumstances – they have been treating patients with what is still a new disease, making difficult clinical and triaging decisions, and often while struggling with inadequate PPE provision,” Dr Rob Hendry, Medical Director at MPS.

“Many have worked outside of their normal area of expertise or came out of retirement to support the HSE effort – in the knowledge that over 8000 healthcare workers have been diagnosed with Covid-19, 88 per cent of which contracted the virus as staff in a healthcare setting.

“These doctors tell us they are concerned that they will face investigation for decisions they have made in good faith. Two in five doctors also told us they are worried they will be held personally accountable if patients come to harm as a result of delayed referrals. Now more than ever, they need to know they are supported.”

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