The referral of a GP to the Medical Council for refusing to issue a face-mask exemption has been described as “disappointing” by a Cork GP and former lord mayor of Cork City.
Dr John Sheehan was speaking after a Dublin GP was referred to the Medical Council after he refused to provide an exemption letter to a patient who does not wish to wear a mask in places where their use is mandatory.
The GP in question, Dr William Behan, told the Irish Examiner that the patient who complained said that she “felt that she couldn’t wear masks” and that “they weren’t for her”.
After refusing to provide an exemption letter for her, the patient complained to the HSE. The complaint was then sent to the Medical Council, which aims to ensure any malpractice from medical practitioners is held accountable.
Former mayor Dr Sheehan said the referral was “disappointing”, adding that it undermines the message surrounding the importance of mask-wearing that is being issued by the HSE and doctors.
“I thought it was very disappointing, as I feel the GP was following the guidelines surrounding the issue,” he said.
“I thought their actions were very sensible and logical, but unfortunately there sometimes are complaints like these that have no basis in fact.
“I also think it was disappointing to see the HSE refer this issue on to the Medical Council.
“The HSE should have structures and procedures in place to deal with what would be regarded as minor complaints, without going through the full Medical Council process.
“It will now take that doctor one or two days to reply to that complaint. Even if it is dismissed at an early stage, it will take a considerable amount of time.
“There should be HSE structures in place locally to deal with these types of complaints without escalating it to Medical Council level.”