GP who took ring for fee 'not hired by Reilly again'
THE doctor who demanded that the mother of a boy who suffers from epilepsy hand over jewellery when she could not produce her medical card was never again employed by Health Minister James Reilly, it was claimed yesterday.
A spokesman for Dr Reilly was commenting after a Dublin mother of three revealed how a GP, who was covering for Dr Reilly when he was a family doctor, insisted she hand over a ring before he would treat her epileptic son, who was suffering a seizure.
Antoinette McLoughlin, of Reamount Road, Lusk, Co Dublin, had gone with her son Michael to a night-time clinic in Skerries, which was being manned by a locum doctor, hired to provide an out-of-hours service for Dr Reilly and other GPs in the area.
When Mrs McLoughlin could not produce her medical card or cash, the terrified mother had to hand over her eternity ring as a guarantee -- which the doctor returned to her the next morning.
Dr Reilly, who at that time, in 2006, headed a large general practice surgery in Lusk, had an arrangement with other GPs where they had a rota of locum doctors to provide cover out-of-hours, his spokesman said yesterday.
In opposition to the government, Dr Reilly was critical of what he saw as the poor vetting of locum doctors hired to work in hospitals which resulted in a series of scandals, including the misreading of patient test results.
Asked what kind of vetting was carried out on the GPs who saw patients in the evening and at night, the spokesman said their Medical Council registration and insurance was verified.
It is unclear, however, what kind of guidance the locum doctors received on how to respond to a patient who did not know their medical card number or who had no money on them.
He said: "A meeting was called at Dr Reilly's surgery and the doctor apologised. It was made clear the behaviour was unacceptable and the doctor was not employed again."
The name of the doctor has not been disclosed and it is unclear if he is still working in Ireland.
Mrs McLoughlin, who looks after Michael round-the-clock and has two younger children, said she stood by her claim that she was asked by the minister's staff not to go public about the incident at the time. Dr Reilly has denied this.
She said she was prompted to highlight the case now because of the poor service her son has been getting.
"This government is now threatening to cut allowances again after so many promises. Dr Reilly promised to change things for the better but to me they are getting worse," she said.
The arrangement which was in place for medical cover at that time has now been changed and replaced with a co-operative called D-Doc, which is operated on a roster system by GPs who take turns doing evening and night shifts.
It means patients are more likely to be treated by a resident GP than a locum, although some agency doctors are still called on at times.
Dr Mel Bates, medical director of D-Doc, said there was now an organised complaints system in place for patients who wanted to highlight issues.