CORU, the Health and Social Care Professionals Council, is the regulator for a number of health and social care professions, including Social Workers, Radiologists, Speech and Language Therapists and Occupational Therapists, amongst others.
In a District Court prosecution this week, CORU succeeded in obtaining convictions in respect of two individuals who were found to be using the titles of ‘Occupational Therapist’ and ‘Speech and Language Therapist’ without the requisite CORU registration. Both titles are protected under the Health and Social Care Professionals Act 2005 (the “2005 Act”), as amended. Under the 2005 Act, CORU is responsible for the maintenance of several registers and has significant enforcement powers in respect of the various protected titles designated under the legislation.
CORU initiated the District Court Prosecution following several warnings to the Directors of Bright Speech and Occupational Therapy Services Limited, trading as "Bright SPOTS" in circumstances where the titles were being used by the directors of the company, when neither is entitled to do so.
Bright Spots offered Speech, Language and Occupational Therapy services for children and operated from a premises in Co. Cork. The investigation of the matter followed complaints from members of the public that the individuals involved were using the titles of “Speech and Language Therapist” and “Occupational Therapist” while not registered with CORU, constituting a criminal offence.
Whilst both individuals had obtained their qualifications in the UK, they had failed to register with CORU, notwithstanding several warning letters from the regulator, reminding them of their obligation to do so. Protected titles for the various CORU professions are detailed in Section 4 of the 2005 Act, which allows CORU to take enforcement action and/or initiate criminal proceedings against any person who uses a protected title in circumstances where he or she is not registered with CORU.
Following the entry of guilty pleas by both of the Accused, convictions were imposed by Judge Con O’Leary who imposed fines together with a nominal contribution to costs.
High Court Application
Prior to the prosecution, CORU had previously sought an injunction from the High Court requiring both individuals to cease and desist from using the titles, on foot of which undertakings were provided to the High Court to cease and desist from using the titles whilst not registered with CORU. Our previous article regarding the High Court application can be accessed here.
These successful prosecutions serve as a reminder as to the seriousness with which registration requirements will be monitored both by regulatory bodies and the Courts. This prosecution is reflective of steps taken by other professional regulators to ensure that protected titles are respected and not abused, ultimately ensuring public protection and patient safety. The facts of this particular case also serve as a reminder to registrants holding registrations in multiple jurisdictions as to the necessity of ensuring registration and entitlement to use protected titles in each of the jurisdictions where the individual intends to practise.
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For further information on this issue, please contact Lyn McCarthy firstname.lastname@example.org at Hayes solicitors.
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About the Author
Lyn is an Associate Solicitor in the Healthcare team at Hayes Solicitors. Lyn advises clinical practitioners and indemnity bodies in respect of the defence of medical negligence claims and also in respect of the defence of professional disciplinary matters before Committees of inquiry.