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President's speech welcoming Part 11 of the Medical Practitioners Act, 2007

Speech by President Kieran Murphy
Official Launch of Part 11 by Minister for Health and Children Mary Harney TD, 31st May 2010

Minister and Honoured Guests,

I would first like welcome to the Minister on her second visit to Kingram House. I also want to thank all of you for taking the time out to join us here today at the official launch of Part 11 of the 2007 Medical Practitioners Act. The Medical Council welcomes the commencement of Part 11 which sees the introduction of a statutory requirement for the maintenance of professional competence.

Our responsibility at the Medical Council is to better protect patients by ensuring that doctors are competent, act professionally and are accountable to their patients.The commencement of Part 11 will greatly assist us in fulfilling that responsibility more effectively. It is an important milestone for the medical profession and an important milestone for enhancing patient safety. It will ensure that all doctors are helped to maintain and develop their knowledge and skills during the course of their professional lives and will help ensure that patients are getting the highest possible standards and quality of care.

Good medical practice is based on a relationship of trust between doctors and society and involves a partnership between patient and doctor that is based on mutual respect, confidentiality, honesty, responsibility and accountability. Statutory professional competence will increase patient's confidence in their doctor's expertise and enhance the trust underlying the patient-doctor relationship. The additional quality assurance that this process brings to the patient-doctor relationship is a further protection to ensure the safety of patients.

Of course, it has to be acknowledged that the majority of doctors have maintained their professional competence on a voluntary basis for many years. The Act merely formalises that process for those doctors.

I would like to welcome Dr Paul Kavanagh to the team here at the Medical Council. Paul is about to join us as our Head of Professional Competence. He brings with him a wealth of experience which we are certain will help us ensure that we roll out the new programmes efficiently and effectively.

Arriving at the stage of formally launching Part 11 has involved many years of work on the part of the Professional Competence Section here at the Council and I want to particularly thank Fergal McNally and Jan Fitzpatrick. In addition, I would like to acknowledge the contributions of Professor Paul Finucane, Chair of the Professional Competence Working Group and Ann Maher, Chair of the Professional Competence Steering Committee. I would also like to express our sincere gratitude for the support and cooperation of the training bodies and to the many doctors who have already aligned themselves to a training body for the purposes of professional competence. Following consultation with all of the relevant parties I believe that we will have a programme in place that will deliver the highest possible standards of continuing professional development without placing inordinate demands on doctors.

At the launch of our new premises by the Minister here last November, we talked about it being a building that was "fit for purpose" in terms of meeting the needs of a modern organization focussed on meeting the expectations of a contemporary society. I am happy today that we have legislation and a system of quality assurance that is also "fit for purpose" in terms of enhancing patient safety and the quality of patient care. It will ensure that patients have access to the highest possible standards of care. Ultimately that is why we are here, that is the responsibility of the Council and that is the spirit of the legislation.

Thank you.