IN the article 'Speak out, cleared GP's patient urges' by Louise Hogan and Eilish O'Regan (Irish Independent, January 27), Dr Mel Bates of the Irish College of General Practitioners was quoted as saying that there are no binding rules for doctors about having chaperones, such as practice nurses, for patients.
The Medical Council's role is to protect the public by ensuring that doctors are competent and adhere to the highest standards of professionalism in their behaviour and relationships with patients.
In 2009, the Medical Council published the Guide to Professional Conduct and Ethics for Registered Medical Practitioners, which outlines the professional conduct, standards and ethics that medical practitioners have to comply with.
Section 15 of the guide covers the topic of physical and intimate examinations and states: "Where an intimate examination is necessary, you should explain to the patient why it is needed and what it will entail. You should also let the patient know that they can have a chaperone present if they wish."
The guide is issued to all doctors when registering with the Medical Council. It is important for members of the public to be aware that doctors who have breached the guide may be the subject of the Medical Council's disciplinary procedures.
I would encourage members of the public to read the guide, which is available at www. medicalcouncil.ie, so that they are aware of the high professional standards to which doctors are obliged to adhere.
Prof kieran C Murphy
President, Medical council