A consultant psychiatrist who paid a long-term patient a €50,000 "settlement" over quality of  care has been censured by the High Court, with conditions attached to his registration.

The consultant was found guilty of professional misconduct by the Medical Council which applied to the High Court for orders confirming the sanctions it sought.

Ms Justice Eileen Creedon made orders under the Medical Practitioners Act confirming the sanction sought by the Medical Council against the psychiatrist. She also continued orders directing neither the doctor nor patient's identity to be reported.

Lawyers for the Medical Council said the psychiatrist is on the specialist register and was involved in the patient's care over more than 20 years.

That care involved a number of hospital admissions and some unsuccessful attempts to wean the patient off certain prescribed drugs or to reduce their dosage, he said.

In 2012, more than 10 years after the patient began attending the psychiatrist, there were exchanges between the two over the quality of care provided by him to the patient.  

The psychiatrist wrote a number of letters to the patient that same year explaining he, the psychiatrist,  was suffering from a significant medical condition which was being investigated.

A September 2012 "settlement letter" from the psychiatrist to the patient, signed by both of them, stated the doctor, following a conversation with the patient, had agreed to pay the patient €50,000 in full and final settlement for medical services without admission of liability, Mr McDowell said.

The Medical Council later became aware of the payment and its Fitness to Practice Committee investigated the matter, resulting in findings of professional misconduct against the doctor.

The Committee found the 2012 settlement and payment of €50,000 was inappropriate and amounted to a serious falling short of the standards expected of a medical professional, infringed the professional relationship between doctor and patient and must affect the capacity of a professional to act independently.

The Committee also found the letters from the psychiatrist to his patient amounted to professional misconduct in that he had disclosed matters of a personal nature and failed to maintain appropriate professional boundaries with the patient.

The Medical Council, at a hearing last year, agreed with the Committee's recommendation that the psychiatrist should be censured with conditions attached to his registration.

The doctor did not lodge any appeal and, in those circumstances, the Council sought the confirmation orders from the High Court.