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Dáil Speech on Health and Social Care Professionals Bill Wednesday 3rd October

I welcome the Minister. It is fascinating that between 11.15 a.m. and 11.45 a.m. it is very difficult to contact council officials. It is obvious that the same applies in this House with Members of the Opposition. They must all have left for tea. I do not know the rules but we could obviously conclude the Bill if we wished. However, some of my colleagues have important points to raise.

I welcome this Bill as it is very necessary for patient care. It is also very important that the existing council can run efficiently until the board members from the various registration boards are put in place. However, I have a problem with the fact that it has taken so long, as Deputy Neville said, for this process to reach fruition. In 2000 the need for registration boards for the various medical organisations was first identified. The Act was only passed in 2005, possibly as a result of legislation from the EU. The council was only established in 2007 and it was 2010 when the first registration board, the social carers registration board, was established. That is a very important board, particularly when one considers that we will shortly have a referendum on the rights of children. It was important to have that board in place.

In 2011 the second board, the radiotherapy board, was established. However, there has been no progress on ten more boards. There are probably legal and technical issues associated with those, but does the slow pace in establishing the boards give confidence to the public? It is mystifying that it is taking so long and that we move so slowly on many operations within government. We are talking about 12 boards but I agree with Deputy Neville with regard to psychotherapists and counsellors. Those are important boards that should be established under this legislation.

We must convey to the public that these are not quangos and that we are not re-establishing quangos when it is Government policy to remove them. The role of the registration board is to maintain and establish a register for the designated professions, issue certificates of registration, give guidance on ethical conduct and approve education and training programmes. When one considers the functions of the board one can see how vital it is that all these professions are registered.

It is worrying that Part 6 of the 2005 Act was never commenced. Part 6 is a huge section of the Act, taking up 15 pages, but it has not been commenced to date. Could the Minister of State talk to the Minister about commencing Part 6? It is a vital part of the Act. If it was commenced, it would give more confidence to the public.

In conclusion, I welcome the Bill. The fact that the social workers’ board is already established gives more credence to the children’s referendum that is due to be held. I strongly support Deputy Neville’s comments about psychotherapists and counsellors. They must be registered with some type of registration board. That could be taken on board through an amendment. There are many problems, particularly the incidence of suicide among young men. They need people to talk to and the people they talk to must be competent, well qualified and have proper training to deal with the problems of young people nowadays, who have both mental and physical issues, such as bulimia and so forth. When the Minister tables amendments on Committee Stage, I urge him to consider adding those two boards in view of the crisis situation we are dealing with at present with the number of people taking their own lives and self harming. I would appreciate if that could be dealt with now.

ENDS