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Medical Councils Health Committee

The Health Committee’s primary role is that of supporting the maintenance of registration and appropriate monitoring of doctors with identified health problems, but where there is no patient risk that could be subject of a complaint to the Preliminary Proceedings Committee.  The Committee is comprised of both medical personnel (primarily GP’s and psychiatrists) and non-medical members, who are involved in the healthcare/ medical sector.

The referral pathways to the Health Committee are:

  • An undertaking by a doctor to the Fitness to Practise Committee
  • The Medical Council by direct referral or sanction
  • Self- Referral, where the doctor refers himself/herself to the Health Committee for support, or
  • Referral by a third party, where a colleague or a Hospital, for instance, refers a doctor for support to the Health Committee.

When a doctor comes to the attention of the Committee via one of the four referral pathways, they will be asked to give consent to enable the Committee to take up relevant medical reports. A medical report from an appropriate source (GP, treating practitioner, Occupational Health Physician etc.) setting out the reasons for the referral and the potential risks that the doctor poses to themselves and / or the public allows the Committee to determine whether the Health Committee is the appropriate Council structure to deal with the doctor and to provide a background to any assessment that may take place.

The Committee does not provide treatment or take on the responsibility of a patient / doctor role but rather monitors a doctor’s compliance with treatment provided in an appropriate healthcare environment. On receipt of reports and remedial plan from the doctor’s own consulting physician, members of the Committee will meet with the doctor to discuss the plan and on-going compliance.  A doctor under the aegis of the Health Committee will continue to be supported until such time as the Committee agrees to discharge the practitioner. Ordinarily such support will continue for no less than two years to ensure their recovery and compliance with the treatment provided.

Arising from review sessions between members of the Committee and the doctor, recommendations are then outlined and considered by the Committee on the actions to be completed. Recommendations are made on a case by case basis and can include any of the following:-

  • Seeking an undertaking from the doctor, (to include if it is in the doctor’s and the public interest), that he/she not engage in the practise of medicine.
  • seeking further medical reports on the doctor’s condition;
  • releasing the doctor from the Committee’s services;
  • on-going monitoring of the doctor’s health;
  • engaging in a more supportive occupational environment;
  • further training, engagement in continuing medical education or up-skilling;
  • Referral to the Medical Council with a recommendation that the Council considers a referral to the Preliminary Proceedings Committee.

The identity of individual doctors and all records of activities with the Committee relating to an individual medical practitioner remain confidential and only available to the Health Committee unless the Committee recommends that the medical practitioner is not compliant, or otherwise has concerns that require escalation to the Council.

When the Committee is satisfied that a doctor who has been referred to it, is fit to be released from the Committee and no longer requires its support, the Committee will release the doctor and notify the Medical Council of its recommendation.

 

For a more detailed account of the Health Committee proceedings, please see our website.