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Legislation watch

Legal Services Regulation Bill
  • Status: Introduced in the Dáil Éirean on 9 October. Awaiting announcement of the date for second stage.
  • Aim: The Bill makes provision for three key entities:
    • A new, independent, Legal Services Regulatory Authority with responsibility for oversight of both of the legal professions.
    • An Office of the Legal Costs Adjudicator to assume the role of the existing Office of the Taxing-Master, which will be conferred with enhanced transparency in its functions. The legal costs regime will be brought out into the open with better public awareness and entitlement to legal costs information.
    • An independent complaints structure to deal with complaints about professional misconduct – this will be supported by an independent Legal Practitioners
      Disciplinary Tribunal.
Health (Provision of General Practitioner Service) Bill
  • Status: Published in September. Awaiting announcement of the date for second stage.
  • Aim: The Bill aims to enable a wider range of registered medical practitioners to provide medical services to eligible persons under the General Medical Services Scheme, to provide for modifications to the operation of that scheme, and to provide for related matters.
Good Samaritans shall not be liable in negligence for acts done in an emergency
Whistleblowers Protection Bill
  • Status: Published in June. Awaiting announcement of the date for second stage.
  • Aim: It aims to provide protection from civil liability or penalisation to employees who make certain protected disclosures in relation to the affairs of their employers and to provide for related matters.
Civil Law (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill
  • Status: Published in June and enacted in August 2011.
  • Aim: Makes provision about clinical negligence in relation to good Samaritan acts; good Samaritans shall not be liable in negligence for acts done in an emergency (with caveats).

MPS position statement: Teleradiology

Teleradiology is the process whereby an image is taken in one location and then transmitted to another for reading, analysis, interpretation and provision of a report by the radiologist at the other location.

Members should not assume that their current MPS membership will offer such an indemnity

Members are expected to advise MPS if they are participating in teleradiology and restrict the practice to their respective local jurisdiction. If an indemnity risk arises from that practice then the appropriate grade for that jurisdiction will be charged.

Members who wish to practise teleradiology in circumstances where the image is taken in another jurisdiction must both be appropriately registered and have professional indemnity cover in the jurisdiction where the image is taken. MPS may be able to offer benefits of membership in these circumstances and members should contact MPS for advice. Members should not assume that their current MPS membership will offer such an indemnity.

New factsheets available

MPS has produced three new factsheets for members in Ireland, on Chaperones, Inquests, andSafeguarding Children.

The Safeguarding Children factsheet references theChildren First Guidance 2011 and the Health Service Executive’s Child Protection and Welfare Practice Handbook. The Health Minister is currently finalising legislation to put the Children First Guidance on a statutory footing for the first time. All the factsheets are intended to be a handy reference for important medicolegal subjects and are available here.

GP suspensions lasted an average of 35 weeks in 2010/11

Complaints toolkit launched to help patients

A new public service initiative to help members of the public understand where and how to complain about health and social care services has been launched by the Minister of State, Roisin Shortall, TD. Healthcomplaints, the first initiative of its kind in Ireland, is a toolkit to help the public with the complaints process and consists of leaflets, posters, a staff training guide and a website, www.healthcomplaints.ie.

The joint initiative brings together 17 regulatory bodies and service providers, including the Office of the Ombudsman, the Medical Council, Health Service Executive and the Irish Patients’ Association. The Ombudsman, Emily O’Reilly, said: “A HIQA poll found that 84% of people with a complaint didn’t know who to complain to and 52% felt too intimidated to complain. We wrote to organisations inviting them to participate in an initiative to provide a one-stop-shop of health complaint information. The outcome was a truly collaborative, wholehearted, innovative and voluntary initiative.”

Healthcomplaints is being rolled-out through hospitals, nursing homes, GP surgeries and advocacy groups. Find out more >>

Information sharing about disciplinary action to improve

Health Minister James Reilly has stated that work is being carried out to formalise the system of information exchange between different medical regulatory bodies.

There is no legal requirement for regulators to inform their counterparts in other countries that disciplinary action has been taken

Currently, doctors who have been struck off the medical register in other jurisdictions can still practise in Ireland. While the Irish Medical Council requires certificates of good standing from doctors coming in from other jurisdictions, there is no legal requirement for regulators to inform their counterparts in other countries that disciplinary action has been taken against a doctor.

The EU’s Mutual Recognition of Professional Qualifications Directive, which governs the movement of medical professionals between member states, is currently being updated and will culminate in a Green Paper and a revision of the Directive in 2012.

It is hoped that this will improve the exchange of information about doctors and improve patient safety in Europe. Find out more >>

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