The Medical Council of Ireland (“the Medical Council”) recently released its end of year Annual Report for 2017. The most significant news arising from this annual report is that complaints against doctors were down from last year. In total, 356 complaints were made in 2017 (compared to 411 in 2016) covering 44 different categories of issues and 46 Inquiries were held before the Medical Council. The findings of the report include the following:
- In 2017, 22,649 doctors were on the register of medical practitioners compared to 21,795 in 2016. This is an increase of 4%.
- 58% of the medical workforce was male, whereas 42% was female. However, there was a slight increase in the number of female practitioners from 41% to 42% compared with the previous year.
- In 2017, for the first time, the number of registered medical practitioners on the Specialist Division surpassed that of practitioners on the General Division.
- There was a 4% increase in the number of visits to the Medical Council website and the volume of social media followers had doubled.
- Almost 1 in 5 complaints related to the issue of communication by doctors with patients.
- Significant complaints also included diagnosis (15%), clinical investigations and examinations (10%), treating patients with dignity (7%) and prescribing (7%).
- 3 doctors were struck off from the register of medical practitioners.
- There was however a drop in the number of registrants found guilty of Professional Misconduct and a slight increase in the number of undertakings pursuant to section 67 of the Medical Practitioners Act 2007.
The Medical Council is the regulatory body for doctors in the Republic of Ireland and it has a statutory role in protecting the public by promoting the highest professional standards amongst doctors practising. In their 2014 to 2018 Statement of Strategy, the aim of the Medical Council is to adhere to the following six strategic objectives:
- Develop an effective and efficient register that is responsive to the changing needs of the public and the medical profession.
- Create a supportive learning environment to enable good professional practice.
- Maintain the confidence of the public and the profession in the Council’s processes by developing a proportionate and targeted approach to regulatory activities.
- Enhance patient safety through insightful research and greater engagement.
- Build an organisational culture that supports leadership and learning.
- Develop a sustainable and high-performing organisation.
Next year will be their penultimate report under this Statement of Strategy and will be watched closely to see if the trend of less complaints continues.
A copy of the full report is available here