The Medical Council has said that complaints against doctors were down last year but some areas of concern have emerged.

Nearly one in five complaints related to the issue of communications by doctors with patients, according to the council's Annual Report for 2017, published today.

Medical Council Chief Executive Bill Prasifka said that communications complaints can vary in nature from a misunderstanding, a miscommunication, not explaining a diagnosis, or treatment plan in an understandable or clear manner, a disagreement, or simply a personality clash.

There were 356 complaints last year, covering 44 different categories.

There were 46 inquiries held and three doctors were removed from the medical register following an inquiry.

Most complaints related to: communications at 19%, diagnosis at 15%, clinical at 10%, dignity 7% and Prescribing 7%.

There were 22,649 doctors on the medical register last year, up 4% on the previous year.