The Government could face industrial action from up to 20,000 health and social care professionals over plans to introduce an annual registration fee of almost €300.
Impact trade union, which represents the health professionals who would be subjected to the €295 fee, has described it as an “employment tax” and vowed to do “whatever is necessary” to get the fee reduced.
Impact assistant general secretary Christina Carney told a conference in Dublin her union strongly supported the introduction of statutory registration, which would help deliver best-practice, high-quality health services, and the maintenance of outstanding professional standards.
She pointed out that the fee for nurses is €88 and for teachers it is €90. In Britain, the registration fee for social workers — the first profession subject to new arrangements — is £30 (€38).
Impact is advising already qualified social workers to postpone their registration until the dispute over fees is resolved. Unregistered social workers will, however, be legally barred from practicing after May 31, 2013.
The deadlines to register for other professionals, including physiotherapists, occupational therapists, and psychologists, will be rolled out after that.
“Statutory registration fees of €295 a year represent a tax on employment,” said Ms Carney.
“It is possible to find a solution that’s acceptable to all. But we will not settle for the fees at their current, unfair, level, and we will do whatever’s necessary to achieve a just outcome.
“We remain in discussions, but if this is not resolved satisfactorily we could find ourselves in dispute. Time to settle this issue is running out and I advise the minister not to underestimate the resolve of these professionals.”
Statutory registration will require individual professionals to register before they are permitted to practice in the State.
It will also introduce new fitness-to-practice procedures that could see practitioners struck off the register for professional misconduct, poor performance, criminal conviction, or impairment due to illness, including alcohol or drugs dependency.
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