Fitness-to-practise case halted after Kildare GP agrees to professional assessment

“Public interest and safety” best served by undertaking, lawyer for Medical Council says

Dr Aoife Kavanagh at the Medical Council earlier this year. Photograph: Alan Betson / THE IRISH TIMES

Dr Aoife Kavanagh at the Medical Council earlier this year. Photograph: Alan Betson / THE IRISH TIMES

Thu, Apr 18, 2013, 13:17

A Medical Council fitness-to-practise inquiry against a GP who allegedly failed to respond to requests for help in a timely manner, and treated patients and colleagues in an aggressive, confrontational or unprofessional manner was halted yesterday after the doctor agreed to submit to a performance assessment scheme.

Dr Aoife Kavanagh of Naas, Co Kildare faced a range of accusations relating to her work for an out-of-hours medical service K Doc, which covers Kildare and parts of west Wicklow. The complaints, which numbered 26 at one stage of the inquiry, were made to the Medical Council by K Doc and covered the years 2005-2010.

At yesterday’s hearing, chairman of the inquiry committee John McAdoo said it had considered the request of Dr Kavanagh under section 67 of the Medical Practitioners’ Act that she would undertake to be referred to a performance assessment scheme. Subject to a minor change, the committee accepted the undertaking, he said.

The scheme involves assessment of professional competence to ensure the practitioner is meeting the standards expected of a doctor.

Patrick Leonard for the Medical Council said there had been a great deal of work done assembling factual evidence underpinning the allegations, but conceded there would be a serious factual dispute between the chief executive’s witnesses and the witness’s produced in Dr Kavanagh’s defence. Even if the factual evidence was accepted, there would also be a further dispute over the expert evidence. The chief executive believed the case was an appropriate one for a performance assessment, Mr Leonard said. The “public interest and safety was best provided for” by referring Dr Kavanagh to the scheme.

Charles Meenan SC said his client was happy to give the undertaking.

At a previous hearing, the inquiry was told in October 2005 Dr Kavanagh was publicly “aggressive and unprofessional” with a member of staff in Newbridge Treatment Centre, in relation to a decision by the staff member to make appointments for two patients, as opposed to referring them for treatment to a facility in Celbridge.

It was also alleged Dr Kavanagh failed to respond in a timely manner to a letter dated October 16, 2005, from K doc management in relation to the incident at Newbridge Treatment Centre.

Dr Kavanagh was also accused of taking a “confrontational and unprofessional” manner with the mother of a patient in December 2009 and of failing to respond to a letter in a timely manner from the medical director of K doc, dated January 7, 2010.