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Can I complain about my Doctor?

Posted in [Resources] on Monday, March 15th, 2021

If you are concerned about the treatment received from your doctor you may be considering making a complaint.  What are the options?

First Steps
We at Cantillons Solicitors will be happy to advise you and to consider the most appropriate route for your particular complaint.

In the first instance it may be appropriate to consider approaching your doctor directly and trying to resolve the issue.  You may have already done this or decided it was not appropriate. Either way, Cantillons Solicitors will review your concerns in detail and advise accordingly.

What about the Medical Council of Ireland?
A complaint to the Medical Council is appropriate in certain circumstances.  The Medical Council can investigate complaints about conduct, behaviour, practice or health of a doctor. It can only investigate complaints about individual doctors and not complaints regarding hospitals or clinics.

How do I submit a complaint to the Medical Council of Ireland?
Anyone can make a complaint about their own doctor.  If you are complaining on behalf of a relative it is preferable to obtain their consent if possible.

You should complete the complaint form and email or post it to the Medical Council.  The form can be downloaded via

We advise that the forms be completed in draft firstly and be seen and approved by us before they are submitted to the Council.

Further information is available at

What happens next?
A Preliminary Proceedings Committee will investigate your complaint in detail and decide whether it should go further.

At this stage it may be decided to refer the complaint for a full inquiry, to take no further action or if both you and your doctor agree attempt to resolve the matter by mediation or informally.  This process usually takes up to about five months.

If a full inquiry is recommended, the matter will be heard before a Fitness to Practice Committee (usually two lay people and one medical person).  This inquiry follows a similar process to a court hearing.  You may be required to give evidence about your complaint and witnesses may be called and cross-examined depending on the circumstances. The hearing will usually be open to the public, including journalists. The hearing usually occurs within about six months of referral, but this can vary depending on the complexity of the matter.

What can the Medical Council order?
Following an inquiry, if the allegations are proven then the Medical Council has a number of powers including the ability to:

  • advise, caution or censure the doctor in writing
  • censure and fine the doctor up to €5000
  • attach conditions to the doctor’s registration
  • suspend the doctor’s registration for a specific length or time
  • or cancel the registration indefinitely

The Medical Council does not have the power to compensate you or to award expenses.

If the allegations are deemed not to be proven then the complaint will be dismissed.

The process is about disciplining the individual doctor and upholding high standards of professional conduct within the medical profession.

It must be shown beyond a reasonable doubt that your doctor was guilty of the allegations made.  This is a higher threshold or standard of proof that than required in a medical negligence* case before the courts.

If you have a concern about the treatment received from your doctor, an action in medical negligence* through the courts may be more appropriate.

A medical negligence* claim can be a long and difficult process.  However it may provide you with financial compensation for past and future losses caused by the negligence. It may also provide vindication of your complaint.

Cantillons Solicitors will guide you through all stages of the process and conduct negotiations on your behalf to ensure you get the compensation you deserve.

Time Limits
A complaint can be made to the Medical Council at any stage.  However there are strict time limits within which an action claiming damages for medical negligence* can be brought.  In general proceedings must be issued within two years (with some limited exceptions).

Therefore whilst it is possible to bring a complaint to the Medical Council in addition to bringing a claim of medical negligence*, it is important to remember the strict time limits which exist.  It is advisable to consult a solicitor as soon as possible and Cantillons Solicitors will be pleased to assist you from the outset.

In Summary
There are various methods of trying to resolve a complaint you may have about your doctor.  Cantillons Solicitors will be happy to advise on the most appropriate manner and to assist you if litigation is deemed appropriate.

(Similarly if you have a complaint about another healthcare professional including dentists, nurses or pharmacists we can advise you.)
Contact us at Cantillons Solicitors at +353 (0)21 -4275673 or if you would like more information.

* In contentious business, a solicitor may not calculate fees or other charges as a percentage of any award or settlement.

Aisling Maher



Aisling joined Cantillons in 2015 having graduated with an Honours Bachelor in Civil Law (International) Degree from University College Cork. As part of this degree Aisling spent a year studying at Brooklyn Law School in New York where she gained an indelible insight into American legal principles, practice and procedure.

Prior to completing her traineeship with Cantillons, Aisling worked with a private client Immigration Law Firm in New York. Thereafter, she joined a large Corporate Law Firm in Dublin where she gained invaluable experience working in the EU, Competition and Public Procurement Department and the Employment Department working on both contentious and non-contentious matters.

Aisling previously worked in our General Litigation Department and was involved in a wide variety of cases including personal injury claims, road traffic accidents, accidents at work, contract disputes, employment disputes, claims against local authorities and claims against the HSE.

Aisling is currently working in our Medical Negligence Litigation Department and has experience working on various cases involving birth injuries, cancer misdiagnosis, surgical errors and fatal claims.


  • Honours Bachelor of Civil Law (International) Degree
    Completed Law Society Professional Practice Courses at Blackhall Place, Dublin

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