Minister Harris agrees to consult on physiotherapist ‘title issue’

 

IMPACT has welcomed the decision of health minister Simon Harris to re-engage with professional bodies over qualifications and the statutory professional registration of physiotherapists. The union shares Irish Society of Chartered Physiotherapists’ (ISCP) concerns that proposed legislation on professional registration is, in its current form, incapable of protecting the safety of those who need physiotherapy services.

The union has called for amendments to the Health and Social Care Professions Act Amendment Bill, which passed the report stage in the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Health yesterday (Tuesday), to ensure that all those practising under the title “physical therapist” will have the requisite qualifications before gaining professional registration with the statutory body CORU. Along with ISCP, IMPACT says patients could be put at risk unless the legislation is amended.

Minister Harris yesterday told the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Health that he would meet the ISCP and the Irish Association of Physical Therapists (IAPT) on the matter over the summer. He conceded that there were “legitimate concerns from the parties involved on issues such as the scope of practise and the assessment of professional competence.”

Four Oireachtas committee members – Alan Kelly (Labour), Louise O’Reilly (Sinn Féin), Kate O’Connell (Fine Gael) and John Brassil (Fianna Fáil) – agreed to withdraw amendments to the Bill on the basis of the minister’s commitment. But they reserved the right to re-introduce the amendments at report stage. The Minister also gave a commitment to circulate draft resolutions to committee members in advance of the Bill’s report stage.

At the request of the ISCP, IMPACT has instructed its physiotherapist members not to register with CORU until the issue is resolved. This instruction remains in place. IMPACT trade union has sole rights to represent physiotherapists on industrial relations matters. It works closely with the ISCP on professional matters.

The union met a number of the Oireachtas health committee members in advance of yesterday’s committee stage of the Health and Social Care Professions Act Amendment Bill. The union sought amendments to the Bill in order to protect public safety and professional standards.

Physiotherapists who have questions on the issues can contact IMPACT at hscp@impact.ie.