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.
Under its governing legislation, the Health and Social Care Professionals Act 2005, as amended, 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.
1. Injunctive Proceedings
CORU has confirmed that it was recently required to bring High Court proceedings against Directors of Bright Speech and Occupational Therapy Services Limited, trading as "Bright SPOTS" in circumstances where the titles “Speech and Language Therapist” and “Occupational Therapist” were being used by the directors of the company, when neither is entitled to do so. Bright Spots offers Speech, Language and Occupational Therapy services for children and operates from a premises in Co. Cork.
An investigation was carried out by CORU, following complaints from members of the public and was satisfied that both individuals involved were using the titles of “Speech and Language Therapist” and “Occupational Therapist” while not registered with CORU, constituting a criminal offence.
CORU 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.
In addition, the individuals undertook to notify previous and existing clients that they are not entitled to use the protected titles, nor had they ever been entitled to do so, in circumstances where they have never been registered with CORU.
Protected titles for the various CORU professions are detailed in Section 4 of the Health and Social Care Professionals Act 2005, as amended.
The 2005 Act, as amended, 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.
This investigation and High Court action serves as a warning that CORU will take enforcement action against any person who uses a protected title in circumstances where he or she is not registered with CORU. The step is reflective of steps taken by other professional regulators to ensure that protected titles are respected and not abused. In recent years, the Royal Institute of the Architects of Ireland (RIAI) has used its powers under Section 18 (1) of the Building Control Act 2007 regarding the use of the title “architect”, resulting in successful prosecution.
Further enforcement in this area will be watched with interest.
CORU’s statement regarding this matter can be accessed here.
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About the Authors
Kevin is a partner and Head of the Healthcare Regulatory team at Hayes solicitors. He has substantial court and litigation experience, having acted for a wide variety of plaintiffs, as well as on behalf of a number of insurance companies in the defence of personal injury actions.
Lyn is a partner 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.