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Dublin: 11 °C Tuesday 23 December, 2014

Parents say High Court ruling is impacting how complaints can be made against doctors

A Prime Time show aired tonight heard from a couple who complained about the care their six-year-old daughter received before she died.

Image: Doctor via Shutterstock

AN RTÉ INVESTIGATIONS Unit report says that a recent High Court ruling has made it more difficult to make complaints to

Tonight’s Prime Time featured a report from the RTÉ Investigations Unit which examined the Corbally ruling.

The ruling relates to a successful appeal taken by a Dr Corbally to the High Court in November last.

The court overturned a decision by the Medical Council that found the doctor guilty of poor professional performance and in doing so addressed the issue of what constitutes poor professional performance for the first time. 

In the show tonight, RTÉ’s Investigations Unit showed how the Medical Council’s interpretation of that ruling is impacting on complaints of poor professional performance.

The report featured Kathleen and John Conroy, who lost their 6 year old daughter, Aibha in December 2011.

Following Aibha’s death the family made a complaint to the Medical Council about the medical care Aibha had received. The Council initially found there was sufficient evidence to warrant a full Fitness to Practise inquiry on the grounds of poor professional performance.

However, on the eve of their inquiry, the Conroy family were informed that while a hearing would go ahead the following day, because of the Corbally ruling their complaint would go no further.

Under Medical Council rules, once a fitness to practise process has commenced double jeopardy applies and the same complaint cannot be taken against a doctor for a second time. The Conroy family say this means they will never get justice for their daughter from the Medical Council.

RTÉ’s Investigations Unit said it was aware of at least another three cases that have already been directly impacted by the Corbally ruling. A further 12 cases waiting to be heard at this point, could also be affected.

Last month the Medical Council sought an appeal to the Corbally ruling – that will take place in the Supreme Court in the autumn.

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