The Government has published legislation that would amend professional regulation provisions for health and social care professionals (HSCPs), pharmacists and other medical groups that are subject to ‘fitness to practise’ regimes.
The Regulated Professions (Health and Social Care) (Amendment) Bill, published last month, would transpose a 2017 EU professional qualifications directive into Irish law. The directive makes changes to how professional qualifications are recognised across EU member states.
The Department of Health draws attention to the implications of a post-Brexit UK, which will become a ‘third country’ rather than an EU member state, in respect of the mutual recognition of qualifications. This is “important given the volume of movement of health professionals between Ireland and the UK,” it says.
The new law would also make changes to professional regulation, including obliging regulated professionals to declare any convictions or sanctions imposed on them by overseas’ regulatory bodies. This would be in addition to other obligations in place under current legislation.
If passed, the Bill would also allow disciplinary inquires in other jurisdictions to be used as evidence in Irish ‘fitness to practise’ proceedings.
And the revised provisions would, for the first time, give HSCPs the right to appeal to the High Court if ‘minor sanctions’ are imposed on them on foot of ‘fitness to practise’ hearings.
Statutory registration is a legal requirement for a number of health and social care professionals including social workers, dietitians, occupational therapists, speech and language therapists and pharmacists. It means professionals must be registered in order to practise, and they can then be subject to ‘fitness to practise’ hearings if complaints are made against them.
Fórsa members in the professions can access free support, expert legal advice and representation – including legal representation – if they are subject to ‘fitness to practise’ procedures.