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Committee Ruling dated 04 December 2023

The Health and Social Care Professionals Council (“CORU”)

In the matter of Part 6 of the Health and Social Care Professionals Act 2005 (As Amended) 

(the “Act”)

Decision on the Second Application of Applicant Z under Section 58(2)(a) of the Health and Social Care Professionals Act 2005

At a Case Management Meeting held on 23 October 2023 the Committee considered an application by Applicant Z pursuant to the provisions of Section 58(2)(a) of the Health and Social Care Professionals Act 2005 that the Inquiry would proceed in private. On that occasion the Committee considered that it would not be appropriate to accede to the application. The Committee provided detailed reasons for its decision which may be summarized as follows:

  1. There is a strong public interest in such Inquiries proceeding in public. The Committee also noted that many of the issues had previously been canvassed in public in the context of the Disclosures Tribunal.
  2. Although it was submitted on behalf of Applicant Z that they were suffering from medical issues as a result of the Inquiry which were likely to be exacerbated were it to proceed in public it was noted by the Committee that there was no documentary confirmation of their medical condition before the Committee. In the circumstances the Committee did not consider that the difficulties alluded to outweighed the public interest in holding the Inquiry in public.
  3. The Committee also considered the views of a number of potential witnesses who expressed varying degrees of apprehension in respect of the Inquiry proceeding in public. However, the Committee considered that it would not be practicable to either anonymize these witnesses or hold part of the Inquiry in private and part in public to accommodate such concerns.
  4. The Committee noted that two of the persons in question had already been anonymized in order to protect their identities.

In its concluding observations the Committee noted that in the event of a further application under s58 of the Act relying on a health or medical issue it would require comprehensive medical evidence in the form of a report or reports specifically addressing all relevant issues.

On 4 December 2023 at the commencement of the Inquiry a further application was made on behalf of Applicant Z. This was based on a detailed medical report outlining a number of matters of concern. It is not proposed to recite the detail of same in this ruling in circumstances where Applicant Z has an entitlement to privacy in respect of their medical history. For the purpose of this ruling the Committee notes that the medical report identifies specific medical issues experienced by Applicant Z. The medical report also expresses a view that a public hearing of the current Inquiry would put Applicant Z’s health at risk.

The Committee notes that the Registrar has adopted a neutral position on the application.

In the circumstances the Committee considers that in light of the new information provided in the form of the comprehensive medical report the balance has shifted in favour of the matter proceeding in private and the Committee so directs pursuant to Section 58(2) of the Act. The Committee gave consideration to lesser measures such as anonymization but considered that these were not practicable particularly in circumstances where Applicant Z could be publicly identifiable by reference to their prior appearance before the Disclosures Tribunal.

Finally, the Committee notes that as is invariably the case applications for privacy are, themselves, heard in private as to do otherwise would be to deprive those who are entitled to make such applications of a meaningful opportunity to do so. In that regard the Committee notes the judgment of the High Court in Doe v. Revenue [2008] 3 IR 328.