Complain about medical professionals
This document explains where to complain about medical services you have received from a private medical professional, or where you believe that a medical professional working in a public healthcare facility is guilty of professional misconduct.
If you are looking for information on how to complain about a public health or social care service, you can read about making a complaint about a health service.
There are a number of health regulatory bodies. Medical professionals must be registered with the appropriate body to legally practice in Ireland. These regulatory bodies keep registers of professionals, and can remove a healthcare professional from the register if they are found guilty of serious professional misconduct.
What is professional misconduct?
Professional misconduct is unethical or unprofessional behaviour that falls short of the ethical or professional standards accepted by a particular profession. Examples include dishonesty, taking advantage of your age or inexperience, acting against your instructions or using insulting, racist or sexist language.
How do I complain to the medical professional directly?
If you have received a poor service from a healthcare professional you can complain directly with the professional either by talking face-to-face or over the phone. Explain what your complaint is about and how you would like it to be put right. If the matter is more serious, or you are unable to resolve it informally, you can make a written complaint to the service.
You can ask the service about its complaints procedure, or you can contact the appropriate regulatory body. See ‘How do I take my complaint further?’ below for more information.
You can find more advice about how to make a complaint.
How do I take my complaint further?
If your complaint cannot be resolved by the professional themselves or by their service (the clinic or hospital, for example), you can make a formal complaint to the relevant regulatory body.
Medical doctors in Ireland are regulated by the Medical Council. Its purpose is to protect the public by promoting high standards of professional conduct and professional education, training and competence among doctors.
The Medical Council can investigate complaints about a medical doctor’s fitness to practise medicine. If the complaint is of a serious nature and raises concerns over a doctor’s fitness to practise, the Council can restrict the doctor’s registration, which could remove their right to practice medicine here. The Medical Council has more information about making a complaint about a doctor (pdf).
Nurses and midwives
Nursing and midwifery professions are regulated by the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Ireland (NMBI). It is an independent statutory organisation that sets standards for the education, registration and professional conduct of nurses and midwives.
The NMBI is legally responsible for handling complaints against nurses and midwives who practise in Ireland. If the complaint raises serious concerns about the nurse or midwife’s fitness to practise, the NMBI can impose sanctions. The NMBI has more information about making a complaint about a nurse or midwife.
You must first make a complaint directly to the staff in the dental surgery involved - see 'How do I complain to the medical professional directly?' above. If you are not satisfied with the response you receive, you can contact the Dental Complaints Resolution Service who will work with you and the dentist to resolve the complaint.
The Pharmaceutical Society of Ireland (PSI) is an independent public body that sets standards for education and training and good professional practice for pharmacists and pharmacies.
As part of its role, the PSI handles complaints made against pharmacists and pharmacies. Some complaints are resolved through mediation. Otherwise, the PSI will arrange a hearing before a committee of inquiry. The PSI has more information about making a complaint about a pharmacist or pharmacy.
Healthcare professionals regulated by CORU
CORU currently regulates the following professions:
- Dispensing opticians
- Medical scientists
- Occupational therapists
- Physical therapists
- Radiation therapists
- Social workers
- Speech and language therapists
The following professions will be regulated by CORU in the future:
- Clinical biochemists
- Counsellors and psychotherapists
- Social care workers
A registration board for counsellors and psychotherapists was established in 2019, and they are developing a registration and regulation system.
CORU has more information about regulation of health and social care professionals (pdf). You can also find out more about the registration of health and social care professionals.
CORU, and the regulation of these healthcare professionals are set out in the Health and Social Care Professionals Act 2005 (as amended).
Counsellors and therapists
A registration board for counsellors and psychotherapists was established in 2019, and they are developing a registration and regulation system. When this is established, complaints about counsellors and psychotherapists will be investigated by CORU.
The body responsible for promoting best practice and representing counsellors and therapists is the Irish Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (IACP). Members must follow the Code of Ethics and Practice. If you believe that a member has breached the code, you can complain to the IACP for the complaint to be investigated by the Complaints Committee. Find out more about the IACP complaints procedure.
Counsellors and psychotherapists do not have to be registered with the IACP.
The Veterinary Council of Ireland (VCI) regulates vets and veterinary nurses. The VCI keeps a register of veterinary practitioners and nurses who are allowed to practise in Ireland, sets standards of education and training, and promotes proper professional standards.
The VCI also handles complaints from the public about registered veterinary practitioners and nurses. It can remove the practitioner or nurse from the register. The VCI has more information about making a complaint about a veterinary practitioner or nurse.
Alternative healthcare practitioners
Some examples of complementary and alternative medicines are:
- Therapeutic massage
- Oriental medicine
There are no registration requirements for practitioners of complementary therapies. However, clinics and professionals are still subject to consumer protection, health and safety, competition, contract and criminal law. The Department of Health has more advice about complementary therapy (pdf).
Find out more about your rights as a consumer in Ireland.
You can find out more about making a complaint about a health service and health service agencies.