Press Release

New Medical Council To Take Office And Commence Its Work Under The Medical Practitioners Act 2007

The Minister for Health & Children, Ms Mary Harney, T.D., today (2 July 2008) announced the commencement of certain provisions of the Medical Practitioners Act 2007 which will allow the new Medical Council to begin its work with effect from tomorrow, 3 July 2008.

The Minister said:‘The commencement of these provisions of the Medical Practitioners Act 2007 is the next step in implementing a modern, reformed system of regulation for the medical profession.

On 3 July, the new Medical Council will take up office and proceed with the election of its President and Vice-President. It will also begin the establishment of its governance structures and committees.

Other provisions being brought into operation are those relating to processing of complaints concerning registered medical practitioners, including fitness to practise procedures and the imposition of sanctions. These newly commenced provisions mean that from now on, the Fitness to Practise Committee will have lay members as a majority.

In order to meet today’s standards of openness, fitness to practise hearings will generally be held in public unless the Fitness to Practise Committee itself decides otherwise.

In addition, a statutory basis is now in place for the Medical Council’s Health Committee, which will support doctors themselves when they are experiencing health problems.

The remaining sections of the legislation, including those relating to registration, medical education and training, and maintenance of professional competence will be commenced over the coming months.

I would like to express my thanks to Dr. Colm Quigley – President, and the other outgoing members of the Medical Council for their service on the Council and for facilitating the transition to the new regulatory framework.

I wish the new Medical Council well in taking up their important and essential role and I would like to reiterate my commitment to support their work during their term of office through to 2013.’

The Medical Practitioners Act 2007 (Commencement) (No. 2) Order 2008 was signed by the Minister on 1 July 2008 and brings into effect certain provisions of Parts 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 8, 9 and 13 and Schedules 1 and 2 of the Medical Practitioners Act 2007.

It also provides for the repeal of Part II, Part V and section 69 of the Medical Practitioners Act, 1978. These newly commenced provisions allow the Medical Council to hold its first meeting, elect a President and Vice-President, establish its committees, begin work on its statement of strategy and business plan, and implement new procedures in relation to the processing of complaints against registered medical practitioners.

The Council will be required to establish a Preliminary Proceedings Committee to handle complaints received regarding medical practitioners, and a Fitness to Practise committee to undertake inquiries. The Fitness to Practise Committee will have a majority of persons who are not medical practitioners.Fitness to practise inquiries will generally be held in public. The Fitness to Practise Committee may decide, on application by the medical practitioner or a witness, including the complainant, to hold some or all of an inquiry in private, depending on the circumstances.

The Council’s Health Committee, which provides support for doctors experiencing difficulties with their health, has been given a statutory basis and this will come into effect with the commencement of these provisions.