I wish to clarify for Members that this Bill does not provide for a return to the temporary registration as was the case in the 1970 Act. It is a new supervised registration which is post and specialty specific and limited to two years. It will be subject to ongoing supervision and will be obtained through a two-part assessment, which is again specific to the specialty.
Senator Leyden asked why we were restricted to Pakistan and India in recruiting. Part of the reason is that the Medical Council and medical colleges have strong links with India and Pakistan which makes access and processing of documentation much easier to do in this time of emergency. I accept there are very highly trained doctors in Cuba but complex visa issues are involved, which is why the concentration is on Pakistan and India.
Senator O'Donnell asked about the two-year time limit. This division will remain for the foreseeable future and it is the individual doctor who is restricted for two years and not the division on the register.
Senator Mooney asked about proficiency in the English language. As I said on Second Stage, clear assurances were given that all doctors coming into the country would be proficient in the English language and that their entire medical education would have been conducted in the English language. That is subject to ongoing review across the two-stage assessment process and I provided those details in my speech.
Senator Kelly asked about the standard to which HIQA works. The standard is based on the international best practice and it is an independent quality agency. It is very much linked into the issue of critical mass, which is a factor we cannot ignore given the small size of the country. I was asked about the up-to-date position in respect of Roscommon. I have a detailed note on the matter and if any local Members or anybody else wish to speak to me after the debate, I would be happy to share that information with them.
In providing an assurance to the House that considerable work is under way in addressing the long-term and underlying problems which have given rise to this crisis, we are considering a new grade within hospital doctors, a kind of general specialist grade. This issue is being addressed at management level and ministerial level in the Department. A working group has been established and work on medical manpower planning is under way. I assure Members of the House that in government we intend to live up to the challenge to address the immediate and urgent as well as the fundamental long-term requirements of changing the health system. We do not suggest that this measure is adequate to deal with this; fundamentally it is not. It is an immediate response to an immediate problem. The underlying issues that give rise to this problem arising now and on a regular basis are being addressed in a very serious way within the Department.