JIS News

The Senate yesterday (March 4) passed a Bill to Amend the Nurses and Midwives Act. Debate on the Bill was suspended last January, as there were concerns about the penalties applied for offences committed under the Act, and a decision was taken to refer the matter to officials of the Ministry of Health and the Parliamentary Counsel, for discussion.
Several members of the Senate at the time were of the opinion that the penalties for administrative breaches should be applied differently, as the proposed sanctions had far too much implications for nurses.
Originally, a $100,000 fine would have been applied to the nurse or midwife found to be practising outside the stipulations of the Act.
The amended Act now carries implications for employers, in that, employers found to be benefiting from the services of a nurse, midwife or an enrolled nurse who is not licensed under the Act, will be guilty of committing an offence and will be liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding $100,000.
On the matter of the modification, Senator Noel Monteith who piloted the Bill, said the onus was on “whoever employed a nurse or a midwife to ensure that the (individual) is properly licensed”.
The Act has also been amended to make provision for registered nurses, midwives, mental nurses and assistant nurses to be licensed biannually as a prerequisite to the continuous practice of their profession.
The primary purpose of the renewal of the licence is to seek to ensure basic standards of safe practices and accountability by the group of professionals, the requirement for renewal being the achievement of specific hours of continuing education and training.
Each licence issued would be for a two-year period during which each person will be required to participate in at least 30 hours of specified training for persons licensed in one category only, 40 hours for double licencees and 45 hours for triple licencees.
Mr. Monteith said this would further allow for members of the professions to be able to keep abreast of developments taking place in their respective fields. The registration process attracts a $2,000 fee.
There was wholesale agreement among members of the Senate on the absolute need for a regulatory framework, which preserved and protected the nursing profession and the professionals involved.

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