For employers, the most important aspect of the Health Professions Amendment Actis the newly imposed duty to report a registered health professional whose continued practice may constitute a danger to the public. This duty is imposed upon employers and hospital administrators who deal with registered health professionals, requiring them to advise the college of incidents where:
- they become aware that a health professional has been hospitalized for psychiatric care or treatment, or for treatment for addiction to alcohol or drugs;
- they believe, on reasonable and probable grounds, that another health professional has engaged in sexual misconduct;
- they believe, on reasonable and probable grounds, that the continued practise of a designated health professional might otherwise constitute a danger to the public.
Other key changes introduced by the Health Professions Amendment Act include:
Quality Assurance Programs
- Professional colleges will be required to establish quality assurance programs including, for example, requirements for continued education.
Public Access to Information
- The public will gain greater access to a register of information about any disciplinary matters or any limitations on a health professional’s right to practice.
Consistent and Efficient Regulation of Health Professionals
- The amendments bring all professional colleges under one act and repeal the following acts:
- the Chiropractors Act, R.S.B.C. 1996, c. 48
- the Dentists Act, R.S.B.C. 1996, c. 94
- the Medical Practitioners Act, R.S.B.C. 1996, c. 285
- the Nurses (Registered) Act, R.S.B.C. 1996, c. 335
- the Supplement to the Nurses (Registered) Act, R.S.B.C. 1996, c. 335
- the Optometrists Act, R.S.B.C. 1996, c. 342
- the Podiatrists Act, R.S.B.C. 1996, c. 366
- The consolidation achieved by the Act is intended to make it easier for the Ministry of Health Planning to apply health care policy consistently to all professions.
- The Act allows each college to use alternative, informal mechanisms to resolve disciplinary matters, reducing the need for hearings in every matter.
- The Act removes the requirement for cabinet approval of college bylaws that deal with internal matters, such as fees charged to members of professional colleges.
Increased Accountability to the Public and Government
The amendments provide cabinet with new powers to inquire into the operation of a college or the practice of a profession.
Should a college fail to fulfill its duties under the legislation, the Minister of Health may appoint a representative with powers set out in the Inquiry Act to investigate and, if necessary, direct the board of a college or health profession to carry out its powers, duties or functions to address issues that were the subject of an inquiry under section.
(click here for full text of the Act)