Don't bay for doctors' blood, public told

PUBLISHED : Friday, 31 March, 2006, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 31 March, 2006, 12:00am

The public should give the benefit of the doubt to doctors against whom complaints of professional misconduct have been made and should not always want to 'see heads roll', said Medical Council chairwoman Felice Lieh Mak.

The professor said patients sometimes had unrealistic expectations of doctors.

'No matter how much you do, you can never satisfy people,' she said. 'People always assume the doctors complained against are wrong, but it is not necessarily so. The public, indeed, the media, never give them the benefit of the doubt.'

In reaction to criticism that the council had been too lenient on doctors, Professor Lieh Mak said it had to act 'proportionately' to its past rulings.

'We can't just be arbitrary. We have to give reasons for our decision, otherwise we have to face a judicial review,' she said.

'The public wants blood, that's all. I am getting very frustrated about it ... They want the guillotine, like in the French Revolution.'

Professor Lieh Mak said she was satisfied that for the past three years, there had been no judicial review against the council's disciplinary rulings.

'We have to strike a balance between the public wanting to see heads roll and doctors practising defensive medicine. At the end of the day, patients will suffer.'

The professor also supported allowing doctors to advertise.

'If you ask me suddenly who is a good doctor for a certain kind of disease, I don't know, I have to ask my friends. That's why patients need a good family physician to take care of them.'