Wednesday, 11 May 2005
Registration of Medical Practitioners.
Mary Harney (Tánaiste; Minister, Department of Health and Children; Dublin Mid West, Progressive Democrats)
I apologise for that. The idea is to work with the Medical Council and others on legislation that will give the council the strongest possible powers. Its powers will allow it to be proactive rather than reactive when a complaint is received. Confidence assurance will be a great guarantee to the public and to patients because it means ongoing training and education. This is important in any profession but especially in the practice of medicine. The procedure of fitness to practise, which requires one to be a member of the council to sit on the inquiry, of which there are 40 to 50 per year, is a huge demand on the complement of people that makes up the council. This includes people in other professions and people who are very busy, so we need to provide more flexibility in this area.
It is not an either-or situation. We must strengthen the legislation governing medical practitioners and provide for the registration and regulation of alternatives. That can be done under the Health and Social Care Professionals Bill 2004 which is going through the Oireachtas. This will provide for the registration of several different health care professionals, but we need to go further to reassure the public that someone is competent and safe to give them assistance.