Nurses are regulated by An Bord Altranais or the Nursing Board. It maintains the registers of nurses.
The Board consists of representatives of various types of nursing: nurses engaged in administration, nurses engaged in clinical nursing, persons appointed by the minister including representatives of various related bodies, medical practitioners, health boards. The nursing representatives are elected. The register may be registered into divisions as the minister directs.
The board may approve education and examination requirements. It may hold examinations and approve hospitals and other institutions for training purposes. The board must ensure compliance with minimum EU standards.
Enquiries into alleged professional misconduct or unfitness to engage in practice by reason of physical or mental disability are dealt with by a fitness to practise enquiry. An initial enquiry is made upon a complaint being made.
If there is a prima facia case for holding an enquiry, it is held. The enquiry has similar powers to a High Court Judge in relation to calling witnesses and compelling attendance and answering. It is an offence not to co-operate.
The Council generally makes its decision on the basis of the Committees’ finds and give directions. There are a range of sanctions up to suspension and strike off. Conditions may be attached to the continuation of registration.
The person concerned may appeal to the High Court. Where the person does not appeal the board may apply to the High Court for confirmation of the decision, in the case of major sanctions. The High Court confirms the decision unless there is a good reason to the contrary.
The legislation in respect of opticians is older and contains less detail in terms of modern constitutional standards. The Opticians Board consists of persons elected by opticians, persons interested in certain related professions and other persons who may be appointed by the minister. Provision is made for representatives of ophthalmic opticians and dispensing opticians.
The legislation does not specify in detail, the circumstances in which persons may be removed from the register. However constitutional justice would require a procedure similar to that provided under more modern legislation. There is provision for appeal to the High Court.
The board maintains the register of ophthalmic opticians. There is a register of dispensing opticians. There are parallel provisions in relation to the register of dispensing opticians and the register of ophthalmic opticians.
The board may provide for
- training and education,
- the holding of examinations and
- approval of training institutions.
There are restrictions on prescribing spectacles and dispensing prescriptions for spectacles. Persons must be registered medical practitioners or ophthalmic opticians. It is an offence to improperly take or use the name of an ophthalmic optician or other similar words or imply membership of dispensing optician register.
The board has the powers to make rules as provided under the legislation. It may make rules regarding the regulation and control of prescription of spectacles by ophthalmic opticians, registered medical practitioners. The board may make rules in respect of advertising and canvassing.
Ophthalmic opticians are re-titled, optometrists. The register of ophthalmic opticians became the register of optometrists under amending legislation in 2003. Penalties were updated.
The board maintains the register of optometrists. It deals with recognition of persons with EU qualifications.
The 2003 legislation deregulated the sale of ready readers Spectacles do not include ready-made reading spectacles, sunglasses, goggles. Contact lenses are included in the definition of spectacles.
Health and Social Care Professions
The Health and Social Care Professionals Council regulate the following professions:
- Clinical biologist;
- Medical scientist;
- Occupational therapist;
- Social care worker;
- Social worker;
- Speech and language therapy.
Further bodies may be designated by the Minister for Health.
Role of Council
The Council oversees the activities of the various registration boards. It provides administrative support and assistance. It establishes committees of enquiry into complaints against the designated professionals.
The Council may make rules in relation to the establishment, management and functions of registration boards for each profession. It may maintain registers.
Registration boards are established for the above-designated professions. Registration boards
- establish registers of members,
- monitors continued suitability of programmes of education and training for applicants,
- gives guidance concerning ethical conduct,
- makes recommendations in respect of sanctions.
Membership boards are to be appointed by the minister to include persons from the profession, with others who are representative of educational interests, management and representatives of the public interest.
Registration Boards I
The Council’s chief executive is the registrar of each registration board. The registration board may make bye-laws relating to the appointment of professional members of the Council,
- qualifications and proficiency,
- applications for registration,
- procedures for awards, training, education
- continuous professional development,
- codes of conduct and other matters.
Registration boards may establish committees to perform their functions.
Registration Boards II
Registration boards approve education and training standards. They must monitor continued suitability of education and training bodies and providers.
The registration board must maintain the relevant registers. Professional designations may not be used without the requisite registration. Failure to do so is an offence subject prosecutable by summary proceedings or indictment.
Fees must be paid for the maintenance of registration on an ongoing basis. There may be provisions for appeals against refusals of registration.
A person may apply to the Council for cancellation of the decision by a registration board refusing registration or refusing restoration of membership. There are provisions for appeals to Court against the Council’s decision.
Conduct and Discipline
The Council establishes a preliminary proceedings committee, a professional conduct committee and a health committee analogous applicable to the Medical Council. The grounds for complaint and procedures are broadly similar to that applicable to the Medical Council.
The preliminary proceedings committee may refer the matter to the disciplinary committee of enquiry. They may refer the matter to mediation if and where agreed.
There are procedures for the conduct of hearings. Witnesses may be summoned and the hearing committee has similar powers to those of a High Court Judge. A report to Council is made by the committee of enquiry in relation to its finding.
If the allegation is substantiated the Council requests the opinion of the registration board in relation to disciplinary sanctions. The registration board may recommend to the Council sanctions ranging from censure to the imposition of conditions, suspension, cancellation or strike off.
The decisions should not take effect until confirmed by Court. A person affected can appeal to Court on the merits. Otherwise, the Council applies to Court to confirm the decision. The Court confirms the Council’s direction unless it has good reason not to do so.