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Frequently asked questions

On what grounds should I make a complaint about a doctor?

Complaints can only warrant action by the Medical Council on the following grounds;

  • Professional Misconduct
  • Poor Professional Performance 
  • 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.

Please note the important notice on complaints amounting to poor professional performance if considering making a complaint to the Medical Council.

While the Medical Council only deals with complaints into individual doctors, some complaints may be transferred to another regulatory body or Healthcare employer, where deemed appropriate.

Healthcomplaints.ie  provides  information on the appropriate bodies in which the public can make a healthcare complaint or provide feedback too.

If you have a complaint regarding a doctor that falls outside the grounds for complaint listed above, we would suggest proactive measures are taken to resolve the complaint at a local level.

Can you give examples on why I would make a complaint about a doctor?

While this not an exhaustive list, these are some examples of complaints we have received:

  • Irresponsible or repeated mistakes in prescribing e.g. prescribing drugs in an excessive or dangerous manner  
  • Treatment/Performance e.g.  serious failure to examine a patient properly
  • Inappropriate relationships and behaviour
  • Misdiagnosis
  • Inappropriate examinations
  • Fraud or dishonesty
  • Serious breaches of a patient's confidentiality
  • Any serious criminal offence
  • Clinical incompetence

The above list contains examples only and is not a complete list of all conduct/competence issues that can be considered by the Council. The Council's Guide to Professional Conduct and Ethics for Registered Medical Practitioners contains guidance on professional standards and ethics for doctors.

Is a complaint a protected disclosure?

Yes a complaint to the Medical Council is a protected disclosure. This provides protection from civil liability and from penalisation by the person who made the complaint. The complainant should have reasonable grounds for believing that a doctor has posed, is posing or is likely to pose a risk to the health, safety and welfare of the public.

The proceedings of the Preliminary Proceedings Committee and the Fitness to Practise Committee are absolutely confidential, except in the case of a document that is the subject of an allegation that it has not been made in good faith.

Will my complaint be provided to the doctor?

The Council is obliged to tell the doctor when a complaint is made about them. The Council will provide the doctor with a copy of the complaint and the doctor will be given the opportunity to respond. All information obtained during the course of the investigation will also be sent to the doctor.

How long does the Preliminary Proceedings Committee complaints procedure take?

It can take anywhere from 6 to 12 months from the date of receipt of the complaint for the Preliminary Proceedings Committee to make a decision in relation to a complaint. However, depending on the complexity of the complaint, it can longer than the time period specified.

What other bodies can my complaint be transferred to?

Complaints can be transferred to another body/ authority if the complaint isn’t within the jurisdiction of the Medical Council to investigate. At times, the complaint may refer to an employer or hospital rather than the doctor. Complaints can also be made to:

Healthcomplaints.ie provides information on how to make a complaint; this informative website can help when considering whom your complaint needs to be submitted to.

Patient support groups are also available to assist you in making a complaint to the relevant body.

Are there time limits when making a complaint?

No, a complaint can be submitted at any time.