Written Answers. - Hospital Doctors.

Question:

98 Mr. Coveney asked the Minister for Health and Children the guidelines, if any, his Department proposes to issue to hospitals on recruitment procedures; the legislation, if any, he proposes to amend the Medical Practitioners Act, 1978, to ensure that hospitals do not enter into contracts of employment with unregistered doctors; and if good practice requires that a hospital, prior to recruiting a new medical practitioner, obtain references from the doctor's previous employers to check the validity of any references received. [1930/99]

Alan Shatter

Question:

613 Mr. Shatter asked the Minister for Health and Children the guidelines, if any, his Department proposes to issue to hospitals on recruitment procedures; the legislation, if any, he proposes to amend the Medical Practitioners Act, 1978, to ensure that hospitals do not enter into contracts of employment with unregistered doctors; and if good practice requires that a hospital, prior to recruiting a new medical practitioner, obtain references from the doctor's previous employers to check the validity of any references received. [1995/99]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 98 and 613 together.

I would like to reassure the Deputy that existing legislation already ensures that hospitals cannot enter into contracts of employment with unregistered doctors. Ireland has a very strict regulatory regime which ensures that only competent and properly qualified medical staff can work in the country. No doctor is allowed to practice medicine without being registered in Ireland by the Medical Council.

The council was established under the Medical Practitioners Act, 1978 and registers doctors who qualify from Irish medical schools. It also registers doctors who have been educated and trained in other jurisdictions before they can practice medicine in Ireland. The Medical Council has authority to register doctors from other EU member states who have rights to practice here under EU freedom of movement directives. I know that the council works closely with registration bodies in other jurisdictions, including the General Medical Council in the United Kingdom.

Once properly registered a doctor is entitled to practice here. For those doctors seeking employment in the public hospital system, as for any other prospective employee, it is the responsibility of employing authorities to check references and previous employment histories of candidates prior to employing them. Specifically in relation to hospital consultants, the Department have recently reiterated to employers the need to ensure that these matters are in order prior to consultants taking up duty on either a permanent or locum basis.
The Local Appointments Commission processes a number of senior medical posts on behalf of the health service employers. Their procedures for hospital consultant posts places the requirement on each candidate to supply three references in advance of the interview stage. For other posts, where the volume of applications would make this procedure prohibitive, the commission carries out these checks on the successful candidate or candidates in advance of making a final recommendation to the employer.
Both the Local Appointments Commission and the Health Service Employers Agency consider it good recruitment practice to obtain references from new appointees and continue to promulgate this practice among health service employers.