Press Release

Minister Harney Announces the Establishment of the Health and Social Care Professionals Council

The Minister for Health and Children, Mary Harney TD, today (26 March 2007) announced the establishment of the Health and Social Care Professionals Council, the purpose of which is to protect the public by promoting high standards of professional conduct, education and competence. The Council is being established under the Health and Social Care Professionals Act 2005 and will lead to the statutory registration of twelve health and social care professions none of whom are subject to statutory registration at the moment.

Twelve separate registration boards will be set up under the Council to regulate the following professions – clinical biochemists, dietitians, medical scientists, occupational therapists, orthoptists, physiotherapists, podiatrists, psychologists, radiographers, social care workers, social workers and speech and language therapists. Other professions may be included in the future.

Speaking at the launch of the Council today, the Minister said“This is the first time that health and social care professionals in Ireland will be regulated under statute and it is a very significant step in our drive towards ensuring high standards of patient safety. The establishment of the Health and Social Care Professionals Council demonstrates my commitment to ensuring that professions are well regulated in the interests of patient safety and best practice and also to the benefit of the professions themselves”.

“I am pleased to appoint Mr Finbarr Flood as the Chair of the Council. His broad experience and distinguished record in both the private and public sectors will be of immense value to the Council in its work” the Minister said. She congratulated the twenty-four members of the Council who, along with the Chair, have the important role of establishing this new regulatory body on a sound footing. The membership of the Council is drawn from each of the professions to be registered and other sectors, including strong representation on behalf of the general public.

The Minister said that “The Health and Social Care Professionals Act 2005, which provides the legal basis for the establishment of the Council, is a groundbreaking piece of legislation. This Act establishes in law for the first time the principle of non-professionals being in the majority on a regulatory body.

I am very pleased to say that this principle of non-professionals being in the majority is to be carried through to other regulatory bodies and is reflected in the draft legislation regulating medical practitioners and pharmacists which I am currently bringing through the Oireachtas.”

NOTES FOR EDITORS

Purpose of the Act

The Health and Social Care Professionals Act 2005 provides for a system of statutory registration for twelve health and social care professions and will ensure that members of the public are guided protected and informed, so that they can be confident that health and social care professionals providing services are properly qualified, competent and fit to practise.

Membership, Governance and Accountability

The Health and Social Care Professionals Council consists of the following 25 members. Non-professionals are in the majority on the Council.

Chairperson: Mr. Finbarr Flood
Health and Social Care Professions Representatives
– Dr. John O’Mullane (Clinical Biochemists)
– Ms Margaret Doyle (Dietitians)
– Ms Jacqui Barry-O’Crowley (Medical Scientists)
– Dr Elizabeth Ann McKay (Occupational Therapists)
– Ms Nanno Fitzsimons (Orthoptists)
– Ms Jill Long (Physiotherapists)
– Ms Patricia Godwin (Podiatrists/Chiropodists)
– Dr Mitchel J Fleming (Psychologists)
– Dr Mark McEntee (Radiographers)
– Ms Monica Egan (Social Workers)
– Mr David Power (Social Care Workers)
– Ms Una O’Shiel (Speech and Language Therapists)
Other Members
– Ms Joan Freeman
– Ms Bernie McNally
– Mr Tom Jordan
– Ms Elva Gannon
– Mr Tony Darmody
– Professor James Browne
– Mr Vincent McCabe
– Professor Denis A Cusack
– Mr Michael O’Halloran
– Mr Kevin F Jones
– Ms Caroline Casey
– Mrs Joan Johnson

Objective of Health and Social Care Professionals Council

The objective of Council is to protect the public by promoting high standards of professional conduct and professional education, training and competence among registered practitioners.

Registration

The system of statutory registration will apply, in the first instance, to the following 12 health and social care professions, regardless of whether they work in the public or private sector or are self-employed:-
•clinical biochemists,
•dieticians,
•medical scientists,
•occupational therapists,
•orthoptists,
•physiotherapists,
•podiatrists,
•psychologists,
•radiographers,
•social care workers,
•social workers, and
•speech and language therapists.

A Registration Board will be established for each of these professions which will establish and maintain a register of members of that profession.

Complaints, Inquiries and Discipline

The Council will establish a committee structure to deal with complaints made against registered practitioners.