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Regulatory Bodies

Dáil Éireann Debate, Tuesday - 14 December 2021

Tuesday, 14 December 2021

Questions (584, 585)

David Cullinane

Question:

584. Deputy David Cullinane asked the Minister for Health the average length of time taken to recognise health qualifications by CORU; the number of applications and the approval response time for the past 24 months in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [61304/21]

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David Cullinane

Question:

585. Deputy David Cullinane asked the Minister for Health the steps he is taking in relation to the waiting lists for CORU; the steps he is taking to review the current CORU recognition process for approving UK registered healthcare professionals to have their credentials and work experience recognised for the purposes of joining the healthcare system; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [61305/21]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 584 and 585 together.

CORU is Ireland's multi-profession health regulator for regulating health and social care professionals.

CORU’s role is to protect the public by regulating the health and social care professions designated under the Health and Social Care Professionals Act 2005 (as amended), including setting the standards that health and social care professionals must meet to be eligible for registration and maintaining registers of persons who meet those standards There are two forms of application to CORU: applications for the recognition of qualifications received outside the State and applications for registration.

Professional qualifications awarded outside the State are assessed through a process of “recognition” which involves expert assessment of a qualification’s alignment with the standards of proficiency required in Ireland, and assessment of professional experience and lifelong learning where required. Where a health and social care professional qualifies outside the State and applies to register in Ireland, they must apply for the recognition of their qualification. EU/EEA applicants have the right to have their qualifications assessed in accordance with the Health and Social Care Professionals Act 2005 and Directive 2005/36/EC on the Recognition of Professional Qualifications and the European Union (Recognition of Professional Qualifications) Regulations 2017 (SI No 8 of 2017). Once a complete file has been submitted to CORU, i.e. one containing all of the required documentation, a decision must issue within four months.

CORU applies the processes available to EU/EEA applicants universally in the interests of equal treatment of all applicants. For this reason, there has been no change to the process for UK qualified applicants arising from the UK’s exit from the European Union.

CORU has provided a table with monthly figures for 2019 and 2020 for the recognition of qualifications by the relevant registration board. Timeframes are calculated from the month a complete and valid file is completed. This data is available for 2019 and 2020. Data for 2021 will be available in Q2 of 2022.

The month shown in the table is the month in which the complete file was submitted. The figures do not include decisions that are post appeal, i.e. those that require compensation measure completion or decisions within the European Professional Card (EPC) mechanism. EPC decisions have a shorter timeframe by definition.

Table: Average number of days from submission of a complete file to the Recognition Department to the making of a decision by the Registration Board on that application.

Month/Year

2019

2020

1

81.9

87.5

2

75.9

81.1

3

74.4

80.9

4

84.0

85.5

5

71.9

73.5

6

81.3

93.3

7

72.3

71.1

8

86.2

94.0

9

59.6

62.1

10

64.3

69.9

11

70.1

65.9

12

88.2

80.8

Number of decisions

631

635

In relation to timeframes for the registration of applicants, CORU has stated that the average processing time is currently 9.2 weeks for new applicants entering a profession. This represents an improvement on an average processing time of 14 weeks, which was the case during 2020.

I met with the Chairperson and CEO of CORU earlier this year and raised the issue of timeframes for the recognition of qualifications and registration applications. Following our discussion, several measures have been initiated by CORU aimed at further reducing timeframes.

Until this year applicants were required to complete the recognition process before initiating the registration process unless they had confirmed job offers. All applicants are now invited to initiate an application for registration as soon as they have submitted a complete application file to the recognition department. This will have the effect of reducing the period of time required to both complete the recognition and registration process.

This is part of a suite of innovations that have been initiated following my discussions with CORU. Further steps underway include:

- Continued reorganisation of work processes to respond to the evolving working from home context (this has changed over time requiring adjustments as the situation develops)

- Full transfer to an online application system

- Increased frequency of regulatory decision making (Registration Board meetings)

- Additional temporary staff resources

- Recruitment of additional expert assessors in ‘under pressure’ professions

My department will continue to support CORU in achieving its strategic vision and improving timeframes for all applicants into the future.

Question No. 585 answered with Question No. 584.
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