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Ciara Kelly calls for Medical Council reform after 'vexatious' complaints over HPV vaccine support

The Medical Council said that upcoming legislation will reform the complaints process.

Image: Newstalk

BROADCASTER DR CIARA Kelly has called the Medical Council’s process for investigating complaints “deeply flawed” after she was again cleared of any malpractice over her support for the HPV vaccine. 

Kelly, a GP and a broadcaster with Newstalk, has been a prominent advocate of the HPV vaccine. In recent months, she has been the subject of a number of complaints related to her support for the vaccine. 

All of the complaints were dismissed by the Medical Council, which regulates doctors in Ireland, deals with complaints and has the power to have doctors struck off the medical register.

However, Kelly has told TheJournal.ie that the action against her should never have gotten that far and she chose not to fight the most recent complaint. 

On Twitter yesterday, Kelly wrote: “Ive had 4 Med Council complaints frm ppl Ive NEVER met or treated ALL regarding my support for HPV vaccine. I believe MC should reform sys wrt vexatious complaints. lts poss to be fair to patients w gen complaints whilst also caring for well being of Docs.”

Kelly has now launched a petition, currently signed by over 450 people, asking for the system to be reformed by the Medical Council and the Minister for Health. 

Kelly said that it was her “belief that the system within the Medical Council is deeply flawed and needs to be reviewed”. 

“People you have never met or treated can make a complaint,” she said. “The Medical Council needs to look at its own system.”

The current system in place, she said, is “unfair on doctors and puts a strain on the health and safety of doctors”.

Kelly said that the investigations were a “source of genuine and considerable stress to doctors”. 

“It’s like being taken to court,” she said.

“It is clear a better system could be put in place that is supportive of patients with genuine complaints whilst being fairer to Doctors who have to deal with complaints that have no merit,” the petition states. 

Currently, any member of the public can make a complaint about a doctor registered in Ireland.  The Medical Council will take action when it is deemed sufficiently serious and raise concerns over the doctor’s fitness to practice. 

The powers the council has over doctors includes the power to remove their right to practice medicine in Ireland. 

A spokesperson for the Medical Council did not comment specifically on Kelly’s experience.

However, they said that a bill is currently moving through the Oireachtas that will amend current legislation to allow the Medical Council to review any complaints submitted “to ensure that only serious complaints are dealt with”. 

“This will deal with the issue of vexatious complaints,” they said.

The spokesperson said that under current legislation, any concerns raised with the Medical Council must first be referred to a preliminary proceedings committee, which considers whether “further investigation is required”. 

Kelly said her concerns weren’t just about her own case. “It’s me now but it will be other doctors,” she said. 

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