End of Year Message from the CEO - 2020

2020 Year in Review

2020 will be remembered as a year like no other. In the face of adversity and many challenges, health and social care professionals across Ireland responded and, acting selflessly, continued to deliver care to their patients and service users. I commend all our registrants for their dedication and their work during these difficult times.

At CORU, throughout the year, we too have responded and adapted to the pressures of the COVID-19 pandemic. In doing so we have continued to promote high standards of professional conduct, education, training and competence through statutory registration of health and social care professionals.

Ultimately, we exist to protect the public and I am immensely proud of how we have continued to deliver upon this mission.

As we reflect upon these past twelve months and look forward with cautious optimism to 2021, I want to acknowledge the continued progress CORU has made in delivering regulation for health and social care professions across Ireland.

Developing regulation

Quite fittingly, during the year 2020, we passed the milestone of registering 20,000 health and social care professionals. This establishes CORU as one of the largest professional regulators in the country.

We now regulate 10 professions, but a key facet of our work continues to be the development of regulation for additional professions. A further seven professions have been designated for regulation and I am pleased to report that excellent progress has been made in 2020.

The Social Care Workers Board have approved the guidance for CPD for that profession, while the work to evaluate and approve the relevant education programmes is now well underway.

Significant progress was made also by the Psychologists Registration Board towards regulating that complex profession. In a first for CORU a virtual town hall meeting was held with all of the educators of the profession in October. Following this a public consultation on the regulation of the profession has now opened.

The Podiatrists Registration Board too has taken significant steps towards opening its register. The Counsellors and Psychotherapists Registration Board have been making some very important progress in their work. We look forward to progressing the regulation for all designated professions in 2021.

Protecting the public

There is no duty more important for CORU than taking action to protect the public when this is required.

In July, in a landmark legal case, two individuals who had failed to register with CORU were convicted in court for the improper use of a protected title. This was the first such conviction ever recorded in Ireland and followed civil proceedings taken by CORU in January to secure an injunction preventing the individuals from continuing to practise.

CORU registered professionals have demonstrated that they meet the educational standards set by the registration board, that they are fit and proper to practise, are garda vetted and that they agree to abide by a code of professional conduct and ethics.  Individuals who fail to register with CORU are failing to demonstrate the same commitments and we will always take prompt action against any individual identified as misusing a protected title.

In October, CORU also held a virtual fitness to practise hearing. This demonstrates our ongoing commitment to promoting high standards of professional conduct and competence and acting where breaches are suspected.

Communicating CORU

There are many different stakeholders interested in the work of CORU including service users, current and future registrants, educators and other healthcare professionals. Raising awareness of our mission and improving understanding of our role is a key priority.

To help raise public awareness of CORU we have created and invested in public information campaigns. A new radio and online advertising campaign commenced in December and will continue into the new year. We have also placed information leaflets in over 1,300 GP surgeries nationwide.

Throughout the pandemic our communications and education teams has undertaken extensive work with registrants, students, and educators as to ensure they understood their obligations.

2021 - Creating the exciting next chapter

With approvals pending for vaccines for COVID-19 we can be cautiously optimistic about 2021 and a return to a more normal working environment.  This will be welcomed as we continue to deliver on our extensive programme of work.  

2021 will also see the development of our new five-year Statement of Strategy and we have already begun consultation on this very important work, including virtual consultation meetings this year with many of our stakeholders. Our draft Statement of Strategy 2021 – 2025 is published on our website and this will be finalised following the consultation process.  Over the five years of our current strategy (2017 – 2021) the number of CORU registrants has more than doubled. We expect similar levels of growth in coming years and this strategy will be the blueprint for developing a robust operating model to deliver targeted regulatory outcomes through sustainable regulation.

Next year will also see CORU open the Podiatrists Register in a major milestone for that profession. The transition period for Medical Scientists will also conclude meaning that title will be legally protected for the first time.

I want to state my pride once again at the incredible work of everyone involved with CORU over this past year. Our success relies on the support, resilience and hard work of many people dedicated to supporting our mission of protecting the public. I thank each and every one of our many partners for your contributions through what has been the most difficult of years.

I would like to thank the members of our Council, Registration Boards and our Committees. The education providers, employers, patient advocate groups, professional bodies and unions are a constant support to our work.

CORU benefits from the support of Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly TD and his colleagues in the Department of Health, in particular those within the Professional Regulatory Unit, led by Siobhan Kennan and her team and supported by Rachel Kenna, Chief Nursing Officer and Assistant Secretary for Professional Regulation.

CORU said a fond farewell to Professor Bernard McCartan who stood down as Chairperson during the year. Bernard was Chair from 2016 and his leadership and sage advice has been invaluable, we thank him most sincerely for this and wish him well in his new role on the Judicial Conduct Committee. Earlier this month I was delighted to welcome our former Council member Ms. Mo Flynn back to CORU as Chairperson. I look forward to working closely with her as we progress the work required to protect the public.

Finally, I must thank the CORU team. In a year filled with challenge it is a testament to their professionalism, their resilience and commitment that CORU has adapted and achieved so much, always focused on our core mission of protecting the public. I know their positive attitude and commitment will continue to ensure patient safety through 2021 and beyond.

Season greetings to you, your family and friends; enjoy a happy and healthy Christmas and New Year and I look forward to your continued support, as we continue to deliver our mandate in 2021.

Ginny Hanrahan
Chief Executive Officer
Health and Social Care Professionals Council