Ruaidhri O’Connor explains the reasons for boycotting Ireland’s regulatory body.
In Ireland state regulation of the physiotherapy profession is being introduced from September 2018. Chartered physiotherapists in Ireland have always supported statutory regulation for public protection. In the absence of state regulation, a number of private colleges have been providing part-time courses of varying duration (from six weeks to six months to three years) in the MSK area, with their ‘graduates’ calling themselves ‘physical therapists’.
This has led to considerable public confusion. The Irish Society of Chartered Physiotherapists (ISCP) has been lobbying vigorously to achieve the protection of the titles of physiotherapist and physical therapist in one state register. In recent years we reached an agreement that – on a once-off basis – graduates and current students of one physical therapy course at the Institute of Physical Therapy and Applied Science (IPTAS) could be included on the register. (The course is externally accredited.)
In January 2016 the then minister for health announced a decision to protect the two titles of physiotherapist and physical therapist in one register. This would also allow registration on a strictly once-off basis and for a limited time (approximately one year) for existing users of the title physical therapist in the state holding specific qualifications from IPTAS or equivalent qualification and students currently enrolled in the institute. These would be required to confine their practice to MSK. This announcement was welcomed by the ISCP.
The society has been seeking an assurance from the new minister for health (appointed in April 2016) that he would fully implement the decision taken by his predecessor.
We were dismayed to be informed by the minister in September that there may also be a requirement that an assessment of professional competence should be ‘set by the [physiotherapists’ registration] board for applicants who can demonstrate existing use of the title but who don’t have the IPTAS qualifications or an equivalent qualification’.
Members of the ISCP were immediately urged not to register until the protection of both physiotherapist and physical therapist titles are enshrined in law, the public are protected, and ISCP concerns are addressed; and also that the society is satisfied that a robust assessment of professional competence process is in place.
We expect the amending legislation to provide for the protection of physical therapist title will be introduced by the Minister in the first quarter of 2017, and that an assessment of professional competence process will be finalised by autumn 2017.
In the meantime, the advice to ISCP members not to register remains in place.
- Ruaidhri O’Connor is Chief Executive Officer at the Irish Society of Chartered Physiotherapists
AuthorRuaidhri O’Connor Chief Executive Officer at the Irish Society of Chartered Physiotherapists
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