The number of complaints against doctors reduced last year, according to the annual report of the Medical Council, which polices the profession.

There were 400 complaints reported last year, with one made by the Health Service Executive. There had been 423 complaints the previous year.

Most complaints related to diagnosis, follow-up care, communication, professional skills and treating patients with dignity.

Medical Council President Professor Freddie Wood said that newly-qualified doctors are leaving Ireland in high numbers.

Preliminary data from its forthcoming report on the medical workforce shows that 10% of doctors aged 25-29 left the medical register last year.

The council said there needed to be a continued system-wide focus on making sure the working environment encourages the best and brightest doctors to practice in Ireland.

Over 18,000 doctors are registered with the Medical Council allowing them to work in the country.

A total of 45 doctors were being monitored by the health committee for medical disabilities or health related conditions, allowing them to stay on the register, once there is no risk to patients.

The council held 32 fitness to practise inquiries last year, with 25 held in public.

Four doctors were struck off the register.

Meanwhile, the Medical Council has been promised a priority hearing in the Supreme Court in a case concerning what constitutes poor professional performance.

As a result, there have been no inquiries held recently in that category, pending clarification of the issue.