Wednesday, 11 May 2005
Registration of Medical Practitioners.
Mary Harney (Tánaiste; Minister, Department of Health and Children; Dublin Mid West, Progressive Democrats)
Under the Medical Practitioners Act 1978, the Medical Council was established as the body with responsibility for the registration of medical practitioners and the regulation of their activities. The function of the Medical Council is to protect the public through implementing appropriate controls on the medical profession.
Doctors practising within this State should be registered with the Medical Council. It is an offence under the Medical Practitioners Act for a doctor to represent himself or herself falsely as a registered medical practitioner when he or she is not registered. Registration is required to sign medical certificates and to issue prescriptions for certain categories of drugs. In addition, doctors are not entitled to recover in legal proceedings fees charged for the provision of medical or surgical advice or treatment given when they were not registered.
Where a concern arises about the professional activity of a registered medical practitioner, the Medical Council has the power to investigate the circumstances of the complaint and, if a prima facie case exists, to conduct an inquiry. Where a finding of professional misconduct or unfitness to practise is made against a doctor, the council has the authority to suspend, limit or revoke the registration of that individual.
The parliamentary counsel is drafting a new Medical Practitioners Act to update substantially the provisions of the 1978 legislation. Among the many changes I propose to introduce are a clear compulsory requirement for registration for all medical practitioners, changes to the fitness to practice process, the introduction of a mandatory scheme of competence assurance for all doctors practising independently and a much increased public profile for the council. I also intend to increase significantly the non-medical representation on the council to best ensure that public safety and protection is given the highest possible priority by the council as it develops in the future.