Dr Marcus de Brun told IMN that he was left baffled after his Medical Council fitness to practise inquiry earlier this week.
The council decided to make no finding against him for allegedly refusing to take part in the professional competence scheme, introduced under the Medical Practitioners Act, 2007. Despite the inquiry finding all six allegations against him to be proven as fact, it was not satisfied there had been a contravention of the Act, or rules. Dr De Brun admitted that he had refused to participate in the scheme, telling the inquiry he believed it to be intrusive and that it went beyond the Act.
While he was relieved that the court proceedings had come to a close once more, Dr De Brun stated: “It has been acknowledged that I have committed these six violations, yet the council have decided to do nothing. This indicates to the doctors of Ireland that this Act is unworkable”.
Dr De Brun’s case emerged after a complaint was made against him by a psychiatric patient in 2014 which was fully investigated and closed by the council a year and a half later. Following the proceedings, he was referred to the competence scheme which included a number of requirements that he felt were “out of line”, especially as he had believed that the case was behind him.
He listed examples of what he thought were the least appropriate requests, such as making the medical records of his 3,000 patients available, having his premises and practice open to inspection, having to undergo psychological assessment and providing access to his private mobile phone number.
He told IMN that he felt they were adding insult to injury by trying to charge the doctor undergoing this competence scheme.
Rory Mulcahy, Senior Counsel, for the Medical Council, confirmed that Dr De Brun had notified the council in October 2015 that he did not intend to participate in the scheme.
Dr De Brun represented himself at the inquiry, saying that he felt so strongly about fighting for his civil rights that he did not want to appear to be hiding behind legal counsel.
He expressed his disappointment in both the Medical Council and in the media coverage of his case so far, who he felt were missing the main point; why he could walk away from this case without sanction, having been found in breach of the Medical Practitioners Act 2007.
“When it comes to coverage of Medical Council cases, it seems to be forgotten that doctors are human, in the press they seem to be automatically cast in the role of the criminal or villain”.
He noted the damage that had been caused to his reputation, describing the fitness to practise hearings as “a horrible and intimidating process for any doctor to find himself or herself in”, in addition to being a “colossal expenditure of money”.
He stated that he felt particularly let down by the doctors on the Medical Council who have been voted to represent their colleagues. “My main upset is that there are doctors working on the Medical Council who continue to stand over this. They need to do something about it, walk out if they have to. They are our voice”.
Dr De Brun concluded by calling for reform: “The Medical Council as it stands is operating to the detriment of public health. The reason we have such lengthy public waiting lists, I believe, is due to the highly defensive medicine being practised in this country. Out of fear of being brought before the Medical Council, doctors are unnecessarily referring patients on to cover themselves, and clogging up the system in the process. Something needs to change”.