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Minister for Health must hold Medical Council to account - Senator Trevor Ó Clochartaigh

2 July, 2014

Sinn Féin Senator Trevor Ó Clochartaigh has called for the Minister for Health to review the operating of the Medical Council in relation to cases of professional misconduct by doctors.

The Galway based Senator raised the issue on foot of a Primetime report into the case of Aibha Conroy, broadcast last Thursday, which outlines how her family never had a full hearing with the council in relation to the circumstances surrounding their daughter’s death in 2011.

Senator Ó Clochartaigh said:

“The Conroy's had sought a hearing with the fitness to practice committee of the Medical Council which was set for February of this year. However, due to the council's interpretation of a recent High Court ruling in what is known as the 'Corbally Case', the family weren't given the opportunity to give evidence and no medical practitioners were asked to do so either. Due to the principle of 'Double Jeopardy' pertaining to such cases the family cannot bring the case before the Council again.

“A number of other cases are understood to have suffered a similar fate and it also has the potential to affect at least eleven more cases which have been submitted for the council. Legal experts have stated publicly that they feel that the Medical Council's interpretation of the ruling is far too narrow. It has also been stated that the burden of proof in the Irish system is far too high in comparison to neighbouring jurisdictions.”

Senator Ó Clochartaigh has called for a debate with the Minister for Health into the role of the Medical Council. He has asked whether he would support the call that the Medical Council postpone any further hearings on professional competency cases until the Supreme Court issues its verdict on the appeal to the Corbally Ruling.

Ó Clochartaigh also wants to find out why the Medical Council proceeded with the Conroy hearing under the circumstances it did, or if there were other courses of action which they could have taken which may have given the Conroy's more complete answers as to why their daughter died in the way she did and if that could have been avoided.

He said:

“The role of the Medical Council is to ensure the best professional practice in medical cases and to provide recourse for citizens who feel that hasn't been afforded them. I think a review of how the Council go about ensuring that cases are adjudicated on in a way that is open, transparent and ensure that justice is done in all cases is very important at this stage.”

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