The Minister for Health, Mary Harney, today (April 22) announced the publication of the Nurses and Midwives Bill 2010. The Bill provides for a modern statutory framework for the regulation of the nursing and midwifery professions.
The Minister said, “I am very pleased to publish this draft Bill which follows on the regulatory changes introduced for other health professionals in recent years all of which are aimed at supporting and increasing public confidence in the way we deliver and oversee our health services.”
The changes proposed in the Bill bring the governance of the Nursing and Midwifery professions closer to the regulation of other healthcare professions and follow on from the Health and Social Care Professionals Act 2005, the Medical Practitioners Act 2007 and the Pharmacy Act 2007.
“The National Council for the Professional Development of Nurses and Midwives is being dissolved and its staff will transfer to the Board. This is in line with the rationalisation of state agencies. I would like to thank the National Council for all the excellent development work it has carried out over the last 10 years,” the Minister said. The main objective of the new board, Bord Altranais agus Cnáimheaschais na hÉireann (the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Ireland), is the protection of the public.
The Fitness to Practise Committee will now have a lay majority on the board. The new Board will have 23 members, both elected and appointed, representing nursing and midwifery, educational bodies, members of the public and stakeholders. Unlike the previous board, the new board will have a majority of members who are not nurses or midwives.
There will be new streamlined fitness to practise procedures that will include a Preliminary Proceedings Committee, which will screen complaints and can refer complaints to the Fitness to Practise Committee or to other procedures if the complaints are not appropriate for the Board’s fitness to practise procedures.
The Bill provides for the resolution of complaints by mediation or other informal means in particular circumstances.
Nurses and Midwives have progressed and expanded their roles to meet the changing needs of patients and clients, the Minister said. “We now have two professions that have developed greatly since 1985, when the current Nurses Act was enacted. They command enormous respect from the public and are critical in the delivery of our health service,” the Minister added.
The new legislation will enhance the protection of the public in their dealings with nurses and midwives. It recognises the need for due process when dealing with allegations and complaints against nurses and midwives.
The bill will satisfy the public and other professions that all nurses and midwives are appropriately qualified and competent to practise in a safe manner on an ongoing basis.
The Minister will now bring the legislation through the Houses of the Oireachtas for debate.