Sunday 23 October 2016

Number of complaints against doctors increase - with many blamed for poor communication

Published 25/08/2016 | 12:47

Photo: PA
Photo: PA

The number of complaints against doctors rose last year with many patients accusing medics of poor communication.

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The annual report of the Medical Council, the regulatory body for doctors, said it received 369 complaints about the profession in 2015, compared to 308 in 2014.

The number of complaints about poor communication rose by 40pc.

The majority of grievances came from the public, but 25 were lodged by other health professionals and two by the HSE.

Other causes of allegations related to misdiagnosis, clinical investigations and examinations, professional skills, lack of dignity when treating patients and poor follow-up care.

There were 35 fitness to practise inquiries into serious allegations against doctors during the year, half of which were held in public.

Chief executive Bill Prasifka said the number of doctors registered here topped a record 20,473.

There were 1,200 doctors exiting the register during the year.

He said: ”I found it particularly interesting that although males continue to dominate the medical profession as a whole, since we began collating this data, there have been more Irish female graduates entering the medical profession than their male counterparts.

"The majority of those on the register between the ages of 30 – 44 are female; however from 44 years and on the number of females on the register begins to decrease.

“Data from our Your Training Counts report also found that 40% of female trainees - or tomorrow’s specialists - want to work less than full-time and this  definitely poses some questions for the health sector and all of those involved in the future planning of Ireland’s healthcare service.”

Medical Council President, Prof Freddie Wood said: “It is great to see that the number of specialists on the register has increased significantly this year as we are all too aware of the doctor shortages we have experienced in recent months and years and with this valuable data we have the power to share workforce intelligence with our stakeholders involved in healthcare planning in order to address these issues and deficiencies that have hindered our health system for too long”

The findings show:

• Exit rates of doctors have increased slightly on last year - from 5.6% in 2014 to 6.4% in 2015;

• The number of specialists on the register in 2015 increased by almost 7%;

• Reliance on international medical graduates is among the highest in the OECD with almost 38% of the workforce an international medical graduate

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