What happens when a complaint is made?
Complaints are investigated by the Medical Council's Preliminary Proceedings Committee (PPC). A case officer is assigned to each complaint to assist the PPC with its investigation and will contact both the complainant and doctor involved regarding the complaint.
The PPC looks into complaints that are made about a doctor (or doctors) on one or more of the following grounds:
- Professional Misconduct
- Poor Professional Performance
- A relevant medical disability
- A failure to comply with one or more condition(s) attached to a doctor's registration
- A failure to comply with an undertaking given to the Medical Council or to take any action specified in a consent given in the context of a previous inquiry
- Contravention (infringement) of the Medical Practitioners Act 2007
- A conviction in the State for an offence triable on indictment or if convicted outside the State, for an offence that would be triable on indictment in the Irish courts.
The PPC in its investigation of the complaint may direct the case officer to request further documentation or information from the person who made the complaint, the doctor who is the subject of the complaint or from other people involved such as the doctor's employer or hospitals.
The Council is obliged to tell the doctor when a complaint is made about them. The Council will also provide the doctor with a copy of the complaint out of procedural fairness to the doctor and to give the doctor an opportunity to respond to the complaint.
When the PPC is satisfied that it has enough information, it will then decide what action to take. Depending on the complexity of a complaint it can take up to 5 months or more from the date of receipt of the complaint for the PPC to make a decision in relation to a complaint:
- If the PPC believes that there is a case to take further action it will refer the complaint to the Fitness to Practise Committee; or
- If the PPC decides not to refer the complaint to the Fitness to Practise Committee, it will give an opinion to the Medical Council that:
- it should take no further action; or
- the complaint should be referred to another body or authority or to the Council's performance assessment scheme; or
- the complaint could be resolved by mediation or other informal means.
The Council will then consider this opinion and may decide to do one of the above or to refer the complaint to the Fitness to Practise Committee for an Inquiry.