A Bill, which has been approved by Cabinet, has amended the five health professional regulatory Acts, in particular in relation to fitness to practise and registration.
The key amendments include:
- Applicants for registration must declare on application, and annually thereafter, any convictions, or sanctions imposed on their practice by a regulatory body (inside or outside the State);
- Disciplinary inquiries in other jurisdictions can be used as admissible evidence in fitness to practise proceedings in Ireland;
- All sanctions will be published to ensure the public has access to information about disciplinary sanctions imposed on doctors, nurses, midwives, pharmacists and other regulated health professionals;
- Practitioners will have the right to appeal to the High Court when minor sanctions of advice, admonishment or a censure in writing have been imposed on a practitioner. Currently there is no right of appeal for these sanctions.
The five acts are the Dentists Act 1985, the Health and Social Care Professionals Act 2005; the Pharmacy Act 2007; the Medical Practitioners Act 2007; and the Nurses and Midwives Act 2011.
Health Minister, Simon Harris said, “This is an important piece of legislation both for the public and for health professionals. It will offer patients reassurance knowing they have information about all sanctions imposed on health professionals they are seeing, while also giving health professionals the right to appeal minor sanctions.
“I look forward to progressing this important piece of legislation to ensure the regulation of our health care professions is as robust as possible. This is good for the profession and for the patient.”
A number of other amendments will be made to speed up the fitness to practise process for medical practitioners, nurses and midwives.
The Bill will also amend the Health Act 1953 to remove specific requirements regarding the composition of interview boards for consultant posts in teaching hospitals. The Department of Health said the current requirement under the Act in relation to board composition has resulted in delays in establishing interview panels, which is having a knock-on effect on consultant recruitment. This amendment should speed up the recruitment process.