Seanad debates

Friday, 27 March 2020

An Bille um Bearta Éigeandála ar mhaithe le Leas an Phobail (Covid-19) 2020: Céim an Choiste agus na Céimeanna a bheidh Fágtha - Emergency Measures in the Public Interest (Covid-19) Bill 2020: Committee and Remaining Stages


12:00 pm

Photo of Simon CoveneySimon Coveney (Cork South Central, Fine Gael) | Oireachtas source

The HSE and the national action plan have identified retired healthcare professionals and those who no longer work in the public health system as a key cohort who can be mobilised to assist during this emergency. Some of these persons are members of the regulated professions who have let their registrations lapse, including doctors, nurses, midwives, dentists, pharmacists and healthcare and social care professionals. The current legal provisions for restoration are detailed, however, and in some cases restoration to the registers can be a lengthy process. The Bill's provisions seek to facilitate the rapid restoration to professional registers of qualified and experienced healthcare workers who are answering the call to return to practice. The Bill empowers the regulators to adopt a quicker restoration process for these professionals, who are already known to them. These are professionals who have satisfied the regulators that they are suitably qualified and experienced to treat patients and who are now stepping forward to answer the call during the Covid-19 emergency.

The Senators' amendment addresses an issue which is important, that is, the ability to promptly register nurses and midwives who have not been registered here but who have either trained or worked in the UK. General nurses who have trained in the UK benefit from automatic EU-wide recognition of their qualifications under the professional qualifications directive. Registration of those nurses should be straightforward, subject to their requirements of registration, including the evidence of identity, confirmation of good standing and so on, which need to be received. As a right to apply for registration already exists for this cohort, we cannot support the amendment. I accept that some concerns have been raised around a number of individuals who are encountering difficulties in registering. I share the strong support that was expressed in the Dáil last night for the need to ensure these persons can become registered here quickly. The Minister, Deputy Harris, has undertaken to consult with the health spokespersons and the regulators on these cases. We can deal with this through the Minister's office by consulting directly with the relevant regulators to try to ensure that if people want to register here, having been qualified in the UK, they can do so quickly because we need them. We cannot accept the amendment to the legislation, however.


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