Independent Media Centre Ireland

Questions for Social Welfare....

category national | health / disability issues | opinion/analysis author Friday August 19, 2005 20:30author by John Williamsauthor email johnwrites03 at yahoo dot co dot ukauthor address Tipperary

..And a request for answers

Asks about rights of disabled people being examined by medical referees and hygiene in the examination centre

If hospitals are so lacking in hygiene as to be unable to kill the MRSA or superbugs I would like to know what hygiene standards are adhered to in Social Welfare Offices where Disability payment recipients are reviewed by Medical referees. The people attending are by definition disabled or have health issues. If the hospitals cannot guarantee an superbug free environment how can civil servants who, with the exception of the doctor doing the review, presumably have no medical training at all? .Furthermore it is practice to have a nurse present during the examinations. I wrote to the Minister for Social Welfare on 26 June 2005 and asked:

QUOTE"I understand it usual practice to have a nurse present when one sees a medical referee. Please confirm the legal position as to whether this is in breach of peoples right to privacy or illegal and if it is it in breach of any Medical Council or Nursing Board guidelines. What is the situation if someone is not comfortable with a nurse present?

Please also confrim what standard of hygiene is met in the area where the Medical Referee see applicants for review in Social Welfare offices? What happens if one of the applicants has MRSA and this infection is picked up by another?"END QUOTE. I have not yet received a reply

I also asked the Medical Council and the Nursing Board if the presence of the nurse during the examination was a breach of any right to privacy. I was unable to get a straight answer from the Medical Council but was referred to "copy of the Council's Guide to Ethical Conduct and Behaviour is available to view on the Council's web-site, , or to purchase from the Council's office". The nursing Board were also unable to answer but instead referred me to the Professional Standards of the Medical Council. I wrote back to the Nursing Board to ask why the Nursing Board referred me to the Professional Standards of the Medical Council to address an issue of Professional Nursing standards? No reply. Before writing this I invited a further comment from Medical Council and Nursing Board. No reply. I would like clarification of the situation regarding the Referee doctors seeing a claimant with a nurse present.

I would also like to know how many, if any, certifying doctors have ever been reported to the Medical Council by Social Welfare for certifying someone as sick who is not. It would seem any certifying doctors are engaging in fraud if they certify someone who is not disabled and should be reported so that the Medical Council could look at the situation with a view to stopping it. If no doctors were reported then why not?

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