MORE than 20 doctors who were abusing drugs and alcohol had to be brought before a medical watchdog last year, it emerged yesterday.
They were among 32 doctors who were referred to the Medical Council's health committee amid concerns about patient safety.
Ten of the doctors were referred to the committee suffering from some form of mental disability, the annual report of the Medical Council revealed.
The committee was set up to try to help and monitor doctors with health problems, rather than sending them directly to a disciplinary inquiry.
The report revealed a rise in complaints against doctors with eight medics being struck off.
There were 367 complaints, up from 314 in 2010. But just 39 doctors were deemed to have a case to answer.
The relatively low rate of inquiries has been a source of public concern and dissatisfaction for many years.
There was a big rise in the number of grievances about inappropriate and inadequate treatment, increasing to 121 from 83 in 2008.
Apart from doctors who were struck off, six had conditions added to their registration which they needed to comply with in order to be allowed to continue to practise.
Speaking at the launch of the report, Prof Kieran Murphy said new requirements were introduced last year to force doctors to show evidence of their professional competence.
Previously, once a doctor graduated they were not required to prove they were keeping up with the changing demands of medicine.