Medical Council finds GP failed to co-operate with investigation

Dr Michael Burnell told officials he was retired and had no intention of co-operating

Dr Michael Burnell  declined to co-operate with the professional competence scheme of the Medical Council.

Dr Michael Burnell declined to co-operate with the professional competence scheme of the Medical Council.


A Medical Council disciplinary hearing has found a Dublin GP failed to co-operate with an investigation of his professional competence.

Dr Michael Burnell was found to have contravened the Medical Practitioners Act 2007 by failing to co-operate with rules relating to the maintenance of professional competence.

The now retired GP was also found to have contravened the Act by telling Medical Council staff he did not intend to co-operate with its professional competence scheme, an occupational health assessment, a logistics visit and a performance assessment.

Dr Burnell did not attend the fitness to practise hearing of the Medical Council on Tuesday. Any decision on sanctions against him will be made by the full council at a later date.

He came to the attention of the Medical Council after a GP colleague alleged he had inappropriately examined a patient. It then emerged he had not accumulated any professional credits over a three-year period, as legally required.

He declined to co-operate with the professional competence scheme of the council, which triggered a preliminary disciplinary investigation and, ultimately, Monday’s fitness to practice hearing.

He declined to co-operate with either of these processes, despite letters and phone calls from Medical Council officials telling him he was legally required to do so, according to Eoin McCullough SC, for the Medical Council.

Dr Burnell has told officials he has retired and had no intention of cooperating with its processes, saying it could take “donkey’s years”, Mr McCullough said.

Counsel said a complaint had been made by a GP whose patient had previously attended Dr Burnell, alleging he had made an inappropriate examination.

As part of an initial investigation of this complaint, it emerged that Dr Burnell did not have credits for professional competence from the Irish College of General Practitioners between 2011 and 2014, though he had enrolled on a yearly basis.

Mr McCullough said this gave rise to concerns and the complaint was referred to the registration and continuing practice committee of the Medical Council.

In October 2015, it imposed nine requirements on Dr Burnell, including an examination of his records and his workplace, and direct observation of his practice. However, he made clear in subsequent contacts that he was not going to engage with this assessment.

The matter was referred back to the Medical Council, which made a complaint alleging a contravention of the Medical Practitioners Act 2007.

In further contact with officials, Dr Burnell said he was retiring in one to two years depending on how long it took to wind down his practice, according to Mr McCullough. He also told officials he had done enough performance assessment over the years.

Last month, when contacted again by Medical Council staff to say the fitness to practice hearing was due to take place shortly, Dr Burnell said he had recently retired and had sold his practice. He told staff he had no intention of engaging with the process, Mr McCullough said.