Regulation of medical profession ‘a concern’


Sunday November 08 2009

A SUPPORT group for people who were abused by struck-off surgeon Michael Shine has received complaints about 34 other doctors.

Dignity 4 Patients has received complaints against four doctors in the past week alone, according to spokeswoman Bernadette Sullivan, who said the volume of calls raises broader concerns about how the medical profession is being monitored.

She said, in most instances, doctors were named and complainants have been advised to report their concerns to the HSE, the Medical Council (which regulates the profession), or gardai.

“I am deeply concerned at the number of people that are coming forward in relation to the Shine case. This highlights the urgent need for a full public inquiry.

“We would hope that it would broaden out and look at how the medical profession is being monitored,” she said.

More than 175 people have now come forward to allege they were abused by Michael Shine, 16 of them since the Government announced a review of sexual abuse allegations last week. More than 80 complaints are being investigated by gardai.

Dr Shine, a consultant surgeon at Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in Drogheda, has always denied allegations that he abused any of his patients.

The consultant surgeon was acquitted of sexual assault in 2003, but was struck off the register of medical practitioners last year for indecently assaulting three of his patients.

The Medical Council is understood to be considering a complaint against several named doctors who supported disgraced obstetrician Michael Neary during his trial in 2003. Dignity 4 Patients made the complaint in June.

During his trial, Dr Shine argued that he usually performed full general examinations of his patients, rather than focus solely on the complaint they presented with. Some colleagues endorsed that approach, saying that it was in the interest of patients.

Dr Shine was acquitted. But last year the Medical Council found that he had made sexual advances, indecently assaulted and improperly examined three of his patients.

He was found guilty of professional misconduct and struck off.

Ms Sullivan, a former nurse at Our Lady Of Lourdes Hospital who founded Dignity 4 Patients, said Dr Shine was able to operate for three decades because of colleagues who turned a blind eye and the Medical Missionaries who ran the hospital. The group has also lodged complaints with An Bord Altranais, the nursing body, seeking an inquiry into the behaviour of some nursing staff.

The Rape Crisis Network has also publicly questioned why Dr Shine was reinstated in his role, why the hospital decided not to investigate the first complaint, and why doctors and nurses in the hospital actively supported the consultant while he was being investigated for sexual assault.

A retired High Court judge will recommend whether a full public inquiry into the case is warranted once a review of the allegations of sexual misconduct against Dr Shine is complete.


Sunday Independent


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