New leader of the Social Democrats, Holly Cairns, has accused the Minister for Health of ‘continuing to drag his feet’ on the regulation of psychologists.
Deputy Cairns, who is a member of the Joint Committee on Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth, said:
“Tonight’s RTÉ Investigates programme highlighted how easy it is to operate as an unregulated psychologist in Ireland.
In total, 17 health and social care professions are designated for registration by CORU – Ireland’s multi-profession health and social care regulator – under the Health and Social Care Professionals Act 2005.
But progress has moved at a snail’s pace – to date, there are just registers open for 10 professions.
“In January of this year, the Minister for Health told my colleague Róisín Shortall that the Psychologists Registration Board (PSRB) was established back in 2017.
“However, three years later, a public consultation on the draft Standards of Proficiency and Criteria for Education and Training Programmes, developed for the profession, revealed a lack of consensus on how to proceed with regulation.
“Having reached an impasse, CORU contacted the Minister on behalf of the PSRB seeking guidance on how to proceed.
“Last August, he wrote to CORU requesting the PSRB to consider a dual stream and phased approach to regulating the profession.
“The PSRB is now considering which specialism should be prioritised for regulation before making a recommendation. How can this be taking so long?
“In a response to me today, the HSE admitted that psychologists have yet to be registered with CORU.
“This has been allowed to drag on for far too long and both the Minister and CORU have serious questions to answer following the revelations in tonight’s programme.
“The delay is especially reprehensible in light of the vulnerability of those children and adults requiring psychological services.
“Lack of regulation is also a major factor in the difficulty in the recruitment of psychologists and the resulting excessively long waiting lists for assessments of need.
“It is also shameful that some families are having to pay for private assessments, which in many cases can turn out to be invalid.
“Parents are at the end of their tether awaiting assessments for their children so they can seek appropriate interventions and supports in a timely manner.”