Press Release

Submissions sought on draft legislation to replace the Medical Practitioners Acts 1978 to 2002

The Tánaiste and Minister for Health & Children, Ms Mary Harney T.D., today published draft Heads of a new Medical Practitioners Bill and invited public submissions on them by 15th September.

The draft Heads of Bill are designed to update provisions relating to the regulation of medical practitioners by the Medical Council under the Medical Practitioners Act 1978.

The Tánaiste said,

“This legislation is a centrepiece of health reform. While there have been some amendments to the 1978 Act, this is the first time in nearly 30 years we have engaged in a total review and modernisation of the statutory regulation of medical practitioners.

“The draft legislation is clear that the object of the Medical Council is to protect the public. The need for doctors to continually keep abreast of new developments, the rights of patients to be kept informed, and the expectations of the public have all greatly increased since the 1978 Act was passed. The balance between self-regulation and public accountability needs to be adjusted to reflect these requirements.”

The new Council will have 25 members. The majority will not be elected or nominated by the medical profession. Seven of its members will be elected from among medical practitioners. Five others will be nominated by medical schools and training bodies. There will also be seven members of the general public who are not medical practitioners. Four others will be nominated by professional and other bodies and the final two will be nominated by the Minister. Among the latter, there may or may not be medical practitioners. The Fitness to Practice Committee will have a lay majority; the Health Committee will have a majority of medical practitioners.

The main objective of the new legislation is to provide for a modern, efficient, transparent and accountable system for the regulation of the medical profession, which will satisfy the public and the profession that all medical practitioners are appropriately qualified and competent to practise in a safe manner on an ongoing basis.

The Tánaiste concluded

“This legislation is designed to support the Medical Council in the discharge of its functions for many years ahead. For these reasons I am very keen to receive submissions from interested parties in this phase of consultation. My aim is to the introduce the Bill in the Oireachtas in the autumn with a view to full debate and enactment as soon as possible.”

Deadline for receipt of submissions is 15th September 2006 and should be emailed to medpractbill@health.gov.ie or forwarded to Medical & Dental Division, National HR & Workforce Planning, Department of Health & Children, Hawkins House, Dublin 2.