A SIGNIFICANT increase in the number of doctors being struck off was the result of greater surveillance, Health Minister James Reilly has insisted.
The data also show that 21 doctors abusing drugs and alcohol were brought before the Medical Council last year.
The watchdog's annual report showed that eight doctors were struck off in 2011. Dr Reilly said the rise was as a result of increased surveillance of doctors.
Some 32 doctors were referred to the council's health subcommittee, with 10 of the referrals coming on the basis of mental disability.
A total of 367 complaints made against doctors resulted in a decision. The figure for 2010 was 314. The vast majority of complaints were dismissed, with only 39 of the 367 being sent on to the fitness-to-practise committee for investigation.
The watchdog outlined how 18,812 doctors with qualifications from more than 90 countries are registered with the organisation.
Dr Reilly said regulatory oversight of doctors has increased. Professional competence requirements for all practising doctors were introduced in 2011.
Council president Professor Kieran Murphy said that a number of advances in the regulation of doctors have occurred.
He pointed to the greater focus on "professional competence and performance assessment, along with an increased emphasis on our engagement with the profession and the public".
CEO Caroline Spillane, who received a salary of €145,952, added: "For our work to have a real impact we need to be involved in constant engagement with the public, the medical profession and others within the wider health system to ensure we are responsive and effective in our regulatory role."
HERALD COMMENT, P16