Doctor challenges decision to proceed with inquiry into patient's withdrawn complaint

Judge granted surgeon leave to bring judicial review proceedings

Last July,  the patient   twice wrote to the Medical Council saying she no longer wanted to pursue the case, the court heard.

Last July, the patient twice wrote to the Medical Council saying she no longer wanted to pursue the case, the court heard.

 

A consultant general surgeon has brought a High Court challenge to the Medical Council’s decision to proceed with an inquiry into a patient’s complaint against him despite the complainant’s wish not to pursue it.

Tahir Saleem, of Knocknacarra, Galway, was the subject of a complaint in March 2018 from a woman patient in relation to surgery carried out on her in the Galway Clinic in November 2011.

Dr Saleem says later in 2018 she withdrew the complaint.

Last July, he says she also twice wrote to the Council saying she no longer wanted to pursue the case “as I could not face any hearings/interrogations of that unwanted experience”.

She said she had “moved on with my life” and did not “want to relive that experience from 2011 again.”

Dr Saleem has brought proceedings against the Medical Council, its Preliminary Proceedings Committee, which considers initial complaints, and against a Fitness to Practice Committee which holds inquiries into complaints.

He says the respondents only informed him last September about the woman’s July communication saying she was not pursuing the matter.

On September 24th last, the CEO of the Medical Council asked the Fitness to Practice Committee to proceed with the inquiry as if the complaint had not been withdrawn, he says. The committee is due to meet this week to consider the CEO’s request.

Dr Saleem claims, once the complaint was withdrawn, the steps taken by the Preliminary Proceedings Committee were outside its jurisdiction and powers.

He also claims, alternatively, that the Preliminary Proceedings Committee and the Council breached his right to fair procedures.

He claims the decision of the Preliminary Proceedings Committee to refer the matter to the Fitness to Practice Committee was also outside its jurisdiction, void, of no effect, and in breach of Section 29(10) of the Medical Practitioners Act 2007.

On Monday, Mr Justice Charles Meenan granted lawyers for Dr Saleem leave to bring judicial review proceedings following a one-side only represented application.

The judge also granted a stay on the taking of any further steps against the doctor pending determination of the proceedings. The respondents can apply to vary the stay on 72 hours notice.

The case comes back in February.