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Memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the Dental Council

The following is the Memorandum of Understanding between the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Ireland (NMBI) and the Dental Council of Ireland concerning co-operation in the regulation of the practise of nursing and midwifery and the regulation of the practise of dentistry in Ireland. It came into effect in September 2014.

1.     Background

The Nursing and Midwifery Board of Ireland (“NMBI”) established by the Nurses Act, 1950 to take over the functions of two bodies, the Central Midwives Board and the General Nursing Council, which had been established in 1918 and 1919 respectively, reconstituted and its functions redefined and expanded by the Nurses Act, 1985, and thereafter by the Nurses and Midwives Act, 2011, having its offices at 18/20 Carysfort Avenue, Blackrock, Co. Dublin, Ireland; and The Dental Council, established by the Dentists Act 1985, having its offices at 57 Merrion Square, Dublin 2, Ireland wish to establish a framework for co-operation in the area of the regulation of the practise of nursing and midwifery in Ireland and the regulation of the practise of dentistry in Ireland.

The objective of the Dental Council is to protect the public and to deliver improvements in patient safety by promoting and better ensuring high standards of professional conduct and professional education, training and competence among registered dentists.

The objective of NMBI is to protect the public and to deliver improvements in patient safety by promoting and better ensuring high standards of professional conduct and professional education, training and competence among registered nurses and midwives.

2. Objectives

This Memorandum of Understanding ("MOU") is intended to assist and support both NMBI and the Dental Council in performing their individual statutory functions and to maximise effectiveness and efficiency. In particular, it takes note of areas of potential co-operation and collaboration in the interest of patient safety and public protection. The objectives of this MOU are:
 
a) To promote co-operation on areas of strategic and high-level operational interest.
b) To collaborate on communication and information sharing activities.
c) To facilitate co-operation on cross-referral of concerns where one organisation believes that it falls within the remit of the other.

This MOU represents the understanding reached by NMBI and the Dental Council, in particular that:

  • Both signatories have jurisdiction over different areas of regulation. This MOU is intended to cover areas of common interest or where co-operation will lead to better informed regulation;

    and
  • Both signatories may in particular circumstances, limit the scope of disclosure of information only if the disclosure is contrary to the public interest or the interests of the participant concerned, would be in breach or inconsistent with statutory obligations or requirements or other obligations and requirements imposed by law.

3. Governing legislation

Established by the Nurses Act, 1950, the Nursing Board took over the functions of two bodies, the Central Midwives Board and the General Nursing Council, which had been established in 1918 and 1919 respectively. Reconstituted and its functions redefined and expanded by the Nurses Act, 1985, and thereafter by the Nurses and Midwives Act, 2011, whereby the name of the organisation changed to the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Ireland, this updated Act has conferred NMBI with an increased number of statutory functions.

The principal functions of NMBI are to:

  • Establish and maintain a register of nurses and midwives and a candidate register of student nurses and student midwives.
  • Approve and review programmes of education and training necessary for the purposes of registration and continued registration and provide guidance to registrants.
  • Specify and review the standards required for the maintenance of the professional competence of registered nurses and midwives.
  • Specify standards of practice for registered nurses and midwives, including providing guidance on all matters related to professional conduct and ethics.
  • Conduct disciplinary procedures.

Established by the Dentists Act, 1985, the main functions assigned to the Dental Council under the Act are:

  • To establish, maintain and publish a Register of Dentists and a Register of Dental Specialists and to provide for the registration and the retention of dentists names in these registers.
  • To satisfy itself as to the adequacy and suitability of the dental education and training provided in the State's dental schools and to the standards required at examinations for primary qualifications.
  • To inquire into the fitness of a registered dentist to practise dentistry on the grounds of his / her alleged professional misconduct or his / her alleged unfitness to practise by reason of physical or mental disability and to take appropriate action. The Council has power, subject in some instances to confirmation by the High Court to advise, admonish, censure, suspend, attach conditions to registration or erase a dentist's name from the Register.
  • To make, with the consent of the Minister, schemes for the establishment of classes of auxiliary dental workers.
  • To discharge the duties assigned to the Council pursuant to the provisions of EU Dental Directives.
  • To advise the dental profession and the public on all matters relating to dental ethics and professional behaviour.
  • To advise the Minister on all matters relating to the functions of the Council under the Act.

4. Area of co-operation

NMBI and the Dental Council having reached the above understanding will:

a) Undertake to communicate as appropriate on all matters of strategic mutual and high level operational interest. Communication will be conducted on both a formal basis through scheduled meetings and informally on an ad hoc basis.

b) Collaborate on communication and information sharing activities. The purpose of which will be to establish communication mechanisms to facilitate an understanding of the respective fields of regulation and operation of both organisations; and to examine and pursue opportunities to collaborate on initiatives in areas where it is deemed by both organisations to be in the best interest of patient safety and public protection.

c) To work together and with other regulators to consider opportunities for savings through joint procurement.

d) Facilitate co-operation on cross-referral of concerns and complaints where one organisation believes that it falls within the remit of the other and where there are concerns in relation to the health and / or welfare of service users. In the conduct of this activity both organisations will respect, maintain and adhere to all requirements of the relevant legislation.

For NMBI this includes but is not limited to: circumstances where NMBI, through its statutory complaints and inquiry processes, performance assessment procedures, process for quality assurance of nursing and midwifery education and training becomes aware of information regarding potential deficits in the safety, quality and standard of the service or context of care with respect to the practice of dentistry, or concerns regarding an organisations suitability as a learning environment for dental students or dentists at any stage in training.

For the Dental Council this includes but is not limited to: circumstances where the Dental Council, through its statutory complaints and inquiry processes, performance assessment procedures, process for quality assurance of dental education and training becomes aware of information regarding potential deficits in the safety, quality and standard of the service or context of care with respect to the practice of nursing or midwifery, or becomes aware of concerns regarding an organisations suitability as a learning environment for nursing or midwifery students or nurses or midwives at any stage of training.

A work plan governing the means by which the co-operation outlined above will take place will be developed jointly by NMBI and the Dental Council as part of this MOU.

5. Confidentiality

NMBI

i. Nothing in this MOU requires NMBI to release confidential information to the Dental Council except in accordance with law.

ii. Unless otherwise required by law, NMBI will not disclose any information received from the Dental Council under this MOU, except with the written consent of the Dental Council. If disclosure is required by law, NMBI will take all reasonable measures to ensure that the information received from the Dental Council will be disclosed in a manner that protects the information from any disclosure that is not required or authorised by law.

iii. Unless otherwise required by law, NMBI will not use the information disclosed to it under this MOU for any other purpose than the performance of its regulatory activities / statutory functions.

Dental Council

i. Nothing in this MOU requires the Dental Council to release confidential information to NMBI, except in accordance with law.

ii. Unless otherwise required by law, the Dental Council will not disclose any information received from NMBI under this MOU, except with the written consent of NMBI. If disclosure is required by law, the Dental Council will take all reasonable measures to ensure that the information received from NMBI will be disclosed in a manner that protects the information from any disclosure that is not required or authorised by law.

iii. Unless otherwise required by law, the Dental Council will not use the information disclosed to it under this MOU for any other purpose than the performance of its regulatory activities / statutory functions.

6. Financial arrangements

1. Each participant will be solely responsible for the administration and expenditure of its own resources associated with activities conducted under this MOU.

2. Any joint funding of specific projects will be addressed by the Working Group established under this MOU.

3. Ownership of any intellectual property rights arising from collaboration under the MOU would also be clarified within the context of projects undertaken by the Working Group.

7. Variation

Any provision of this MOU may be amended at any time by the mutual consent in writing of the participants via the respective signatories.

8. Status of Memorandum of Understanding

This MOU reflects the intentions of the participants. It is not intended to create legal obligations of any nature, either in domestic or international law. The participants will, however, observe and give due respect to the confidentiality undertakings which they have expressed in this MOU.

9. Effective date

This MOU came into effect upon the date of signature of both signatories in September 2014 and will continue in effect until terminated in accordance with clause 11.

10. Agency contact

The liaison officers responsible for the administration of this MOU are:

a) for NMBI, the persons holding the position of Chief Executive Officer.

b) for the Dental Council, the persons holding the position of Registrar.

11. Termination

a) Either participant may, at any time, give written notice of termination to the other participant. This MOU (excepting clause 5) will terminate six months after the date of receipt of the notice of termination.

b) The termination of this MOU will not affect the confidentiality undertakings expressed by the Participants in this MOU and any commitments given under or as a consequence of this MOU in respect of any arrangement or action taken during the period before the termination takes effect.

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