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'Law change needed to check foreign docs'
[Posted: Mon 04/10/2010 by Niall Hunter, Editor www.irishhealth.com]
The Medical Council has asked the Government to change the law to allow it to properly check the professional competence and language skills of doctors arriving in Ireland from other EU countries.
According to Council President Prof Kieran Murphy, under the 2005 EU freedom of movement legislation, the Council is currently unable to assess either the competence or language skills of EU doctors seeking registration in this country.
Speaking at the launch of the Council's 2010-2013 strategy today, he said this legal loophole was a matter of "huge concern" for the Council.
Prof Murphy said that under current rules, doctors from other EU countries do not have to prove their language skills or professional competence when applying to the Council for registration here.
He said in these cases, the Council tells hospitals or other health service employers that it is up to them to ensure that any doctor they employ is competent and can communicate effectively with their patients.
Prof Murphy said the Council currently had no legal powers to refuse the registration of a doctor from another EU country who did not satisfy competence or language requirements.
At present, the Council seeks a certificate of good standing from these doctors; however, this only tells the Council that the doctor concerned had not come to the attention of the regulatory authorities in their home country for professional misconduct, and this would not be a guide to competence or language skills.
Prof Murphy said the Council had a robust system to check the language skills of non-EU doctors seeking registration to work in Ireland.
The Council has called for legal changes in relation to this and other issues in a recent submission to the Department of Health.
Prof Murphy said there was a need for a standardised approach between countries in relation to doctors who have been struck off in one country seeking registration in another jurisdiction and potentially slipping through the regulatory net.
Meanwhile, the Council revealed that the number of complaints against doctors is on the rise. There were 295 complaints registered in 2009 compared to 318 in 2008.
However, the number of complaints up to October 1 this year comes to 280, indicating that there could be as many as 370 by the end of 2010.
Thirty-one of last year's complaints resulted in a fitness to practise inquiry, with 13 doctors found guilty of professional misconduct and four doctors having their registration cancelled.
Prof Murphy said the level of complaints was in line with international norms and the Council took every complaint very seriously.
He said the Irish Council considered anonymous complaints, which was not the case in all jurisdictions, but only around 1% of complaints were anonymous.
Nearly half of the complaints made against doctors last year related to GPs, withe the majority of complaints relating to professional standards, followed by treatment, followed by failure to communicate/rudeness.
A doctor in Ireland has a one in 61.5 chance of having a complaint made against him or her.
The Council's new strategy statement stresses its role in upholding professional standards among doctors, protecting the public and communicating with the public on its activities.
Since last year, most Council Fitness to Practise Committee meetings are held in public.
Find out how to make a complaint to the Medical Council here
See also "1,000 docs let in without language test"
|Anonymous Posted: 06/10/2010 10:22|
Surely be to goodness the hospital who is interviewing to employ the doctor, will, just like any organisation interviewing anyone for any post, ensure that he or she has a sufficient competency to do the job and sufficient English to communicate effectively with both patients and colleagues.
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