As the Deputy will be aware, the Medical Council is the statutory body established to provide for the registration and control of persons engaged in the practice of medicine under the Medical Practitioners Act 1978.
Section 69 (2) of the Medical Practitioners Act 1978, states: "It shall be a function of the Council to give guidance to the medical profession generally on all matters relating to ethical conduct and behaviour."
I am informed by the Medical Council of its view that doctors have been given the privilege of regulating their own professional affairs through the Medical Council and subject to the council's ongoing ethical guidance. Independent clinical decision making by doctors on behalf of their patients is a key part of how medicine operates in Ireland and the Medical Council has no wish to interfere with its effectiveness. The Medical Council's ethical guidelines are a set of ethical principles for medical practice which doctors must apply in each unique clinical situation in which they work, together with their judgement, experience, knowledge and skills. It is the statutory duty of the council to consider all complaints in the event of any alleged lapses from such standards.
Doctors practising medicine should be registered with the Medical Council. People who avail of health services, whether cosmetic or otherwise, should endeavour to seek the services of reputable institutions. In that regard, medical lasers in use in this country must comply with the EU Medical Devices Directive 1993/42 and Statutory Instrument 252 of 1994 — European Communities (Medical Devices) Regulations. Medical lasers are CE marked in accordance with the directive.
As the Deputy will be aware, my Department is currently carrying out a comprehensive review of the Medical Practitioners Act 1978. It is my intention that heads of a Bill for an amendment to the 1978 Act, which are at an advanced stage, will be put before Cabinet in the very near future. As part of this review process, consultations have been carried out with a number of bodies, including patient groups, medical representative organisations, and the key stakeholders in health service provision, regulation and post-graduate medical education and training. Some of the main issues which have been considered are greater public interest representation on the Medical Council, measures to improve the public accountability and transparency of the council, improved efficiencies in the fitness to practise procedures and measures to ensure the ongoing competence of all doctors to engage in their profession and the procedures they undertake.