The Irish Times reported that a judge accepted a doctor’s undertaking to be chaperoned when treating female patients in a private clinic.
It is reported that President of the High Court Mr Justice David Barniville decided against an interim suspension order (ISO) and instead ruled the doctor may continue to practice on foot of various undertakings until any potential fitness to practice proceedings are determined.
The undertakings, which have the same effects as court orders, include those requiring the doctor to be chaperoned when dealing with female patients, to obtain a two-stage consent from patients, a general consent and a specific consent to a specific examination, to keep the Medical Council updated on the criminal proceedings and to immediately inform it of any new complaints.
The consultant, who cannot be identified for legal reasons, has practised in Ireland and abroad for some 40 years and worked for almost 30 years in a HSE hospital until last summer. He continues to work in a private clinic with a list of hundreds of patients.
The council began a correspondence with him in June 2021 after he informed it he had inadvertently incorrectly answered “no” just weeks earlier to a question on his annual renewal of registration form concerning whether he was aware of any criminal prosecutions against him. Solicitors for the doctor informed the council he had been interviewed concerning complaints against him, which he denied, and was co-operating with a Garda investigation.
Following an investigation by the council’s Preliminary Proceedings Committee (PPC)) an application was made to the High Court last September for an ISO. The doctor opposed suspension but offered to continue undertakings given by him in August to the council, including being chaperoned with female patients.
After a hearing in November, the judge delivered a judgment last February which was published last week. He said the council had no alternative but to bring the application for reasons including the requirement under the Medical Practitioners Act for protection of the public and because an undertaking to the council, in contrast to an undertaking to the High Court, is not enforceable.
The report said that the judge said he had to balance the protection of the public against the rights of the doctor, including the presumption of innocence, a “significant” factor but not an “absolute bar” to suspension.
There was no doubt one of the allegations against the doctor which had led to the criminal process was “extremely serious if true”, he said. On the second allegation, he could say no more other than the DPP was satisfied the case was of sufficient strength to merit prosecution. On the third, if adverse findings were ultimately made against the doctor in any fitness to practise inquiry, he was likely to face serious sanctions such as cancellation of his registration, said the judge.
He took into account the doctor’s strong denial of the allegations and said it was neither the council nor the court’s role to make findings of fact or resolve conflicts of evidence which were a matter for the criminal trial.
Disclaimer: The accuracy and information of news stories published on this website is accurate on the date of publishing. We endeavour to update stories if information change. You can contact us with change and update requests. Where possible, we will link to sources. Content on this website is for guidance purposes only. We cannot accept any responsibility or liability whatsoever for any action taken, or not taken. You should seek the appropriate legal advice having regard to your own particular circumstances.