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Hospital Procedures.

Dáil Éireann Debate, Wednesday - 11 May 2005

Wednesday, 11 May 2005

Ceisteanna (45)

Ruairí Quinn

Ceist:

83 Mr. Quinn asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children the action her Department took on receipt of a letter in January 2003 recommending the use of a US based plastic surgeon who had been the subject of investigation by the US authorities; her plans to regulate the growing number of clinics providing cosmetic procedures here; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [15333/05]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Minister for Health)

In January 2003 the then Minister for Finance advised my predecessor that he had been approached by a charitable institution in County Kildare regarding the possibility of an American cosmetic-plastic surgeon carrying out operations free of charge on patients in Ireland. It was indicated that the person in question specialised in the treatment of children who were severely disfigured. I understand the proposal would have involved bringing a team to Ireland for a few weeks each year to carry out, free of charge, up to ten operations on persons who were severely disfigured. The doctor in question required information regarding the permission required, the regulations to be followed and whether facilities could be made available to support the establishment of such a service. There was no recommendation from the former Minister for Finance that the services of the person in question be used by the Irish health service.

The correspondence was forwarded by my Department to the former Eastern Regional Health Authority and was considered by two consultant plastic surgeons based at Our Lady's Hospital for Sick Children and the Children's University Hospital Temple Street, whose views were forwarded directly to the former Minister for Finance. The consultants indicated, inter alia, that the service proposed was not required as there was already a comprehensive and multi-disciplinary service in place in this country for severely disfigured children, and which was funded by the State.

On the question of regulation, the Medical Council is the independent authority charged with primary responsibility for the registration and regulation of medical practitioners in the State. The function of the Medical Council is to protect the public through implementing appropriate controls on the medical profession. Doctors practising medicine in Ireland should be registered with the Medical Council.

Persons who avail of the services of doctors performing cosmetic procedures, whether in this country or abroad, should endeavour to seek the services of reputable institutions. When invasive procedures are being arranged in so-called "cosmetic clinics", persons would be strongly advised to check that the services are provided by a medical practitioner who is appropriately registered with the Medical Council in this country or the appropriate regulatory body in the jurisdiction where the procedure is to be performed. In addition, before agreeing to undergo any procedure, persons should ascertain the level of follow-up medical support which will be available to them after the surgery has been completed.

It is an offence under the Medical Practitioners Act for a doctor to falsely represent himself or herself to be a registered medical practitioner when he or she is not registered. Registration is required to sign medical certificates and to issue prescriptions for certain categories of drugs. In addition, doctors are not entitled to recover in legal proceedings fees charged for the provision of medical or surgical advice or treatment given when they were not registered.

I have met with a delegation from the Medical Council to discuss a number of matters relevant to the current and future system of regulation of the medical profession in Ireland. Among the issues discussed was that of cosmetic surgical procedures and the requirement for appropriate follow-up medical care for patients who undergo these procedures. The delegation outlined to me the council's concerns regarding the operation of cosmetic surgery clinics in Ireland. My Department is currently actively examining ways to address the issues raised.

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