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Unfounded complaints against nurses and midwives in Ireland should not be considered – Law amendment

DUBLIN: If there are complaints against a nurse/midwife working in Ireland, the Nursing and Midwifery Board is responsible for resolving them legally. Such complaints are handled by the Board’s Fitness to Practise department in line with the legislation that grants them regulatory powers. Currently, any complaint is considered and an inquiry is launched. As a result, the NMBI is forced to deal with several minor complaints intended to settle personal grievances.

As part of the new amendment, the NMBI CEO will have the power to decide not to take action if “it is deemed that it [complaint] is not made in good faith or is frivolous or vexatious”.

This authority applies to complaints that are unrelated to a registrant’s practise as a nurse/midwife or when there are several complaints from the same complainant. It also applies when a complainant already has a conflict of interest with an alleged nurse/midwife.

The NMBI’s procedures on complaints are subject to change under the Regulated Professions (Health and Social Care) Amendment Act, 2020, which came into force on 1 August 2021. This will make the process more efficient and eliminate some of the time-consuming administrative steps that have previously slowed it down.

The Preliminary Proceedings Committee (PPC), which is the first step of the process, can now request the alleged nurse/midwife to provide undertakings, and if they are provided, the inquiry into the complaint is completed.

The inquiry panel for new investigations would be reduced from five to three members. Smaller inquiry panels will be more acceptable to registrants. Further changes will be published on the NMBI website in the coming days.

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