TWO women with UK qualifications in speech and language and occupational therapy respectively have acknowledged before the High Court they are not registered to provide such services here and have undertaken not to provide such services unless and until they are registered.
The court heard CORU, the Health and Social Care Professionals Council, has taken separate criminal proceedings in the district court against Lisa O'Driscoll and Emma Power over alleged breach of registration requirements under section 80 of the Health and Social Care Professionals Act 2005.
In documents for the High Court proceedings today, CORU chief executive Aoife Sweeney said the regulator's concerns included that certain schools at various locations in Co Cork may be engaging Ms O'Driscoll or Ms Power to provide therapy services when neither are registered with the relevant board of CORU.
It was of "very grave" concern if Ms O'Driscoll and Ms Power were representing to such schools they were entitled to use the protected titles of speech and language therapist and occupational therapist respectively or using this to generate business from vulnerable parents often "extremely desperate" to access services for their children, she said.
Today, Lisa O'Driscoll, Ardcahon Way, Colkellure, Lehenaghmore, Cork, acknowledged before High Court president Mr Justice Peter Kelly she is not permitted to use the protected title 'speech and language therapist or 'speech therapist' and would desist from using those, or any abbreviation of those, unless and until she is registered with the relevant board of CORU.
Emma Power, Clonlea, Mount Oval, Rochestown, Cork, made a similar acknowledgement in relation to the protected title occupational therapist and gave a similar undertaking in relation to that.
The judge accepted the undertakings which, he told both women, have the same effect as a High Court order.
He was told both are directors of a company, Bright Speech and Occupational Services Ltd, trading under the business name Bright SPOTS, with registered offices at South Ring Business Park, Kinsale Road, Cork.
The company, incorporated in 2016, provides services to vulnerable children, particularly with development disorders.
The company has since November last been in compliance with registration requirements and employs registered therapists, the court heard.
The judge said, with a view to ensuring the public are protected from persons lacking necessary qualifications and experience, there is a system of registration and, as a matter of law, the only persons entited to hold themselves out as therapists are those registered with CORU and certain conditions are necessary for registration.
Registration is important because of the important work at issue and the need to protect the public, he said.
Both respondents accept they are not registered with the regulator but have been utilising the terms speech and language therapist and occupational therapist when they had no lawful entitlement to do so, he said.
CORU's court application was necessitated because, notwithstanding correspondence from CORU from 2018 and undertakings given by both women not to hold themselves out as having the protected titles at issue, the undertakings were not apparently observed and they continued to practise, he said.
The respondents, in lieu of contesting the matter, and there was little prospect of doing that "in any serious way", have offered undertakings, he said.
He was satisfied the undertakings do what is intended by the legislation and CORU in that they provide protection to the public from unregistered persons holding themselves out as entitled to provide services, he said.
In fairness to both respondents, they have qualified in their professions in another jurisdiction but are not registered here and do not seem to have sought registration here, he also said.
He did not know if they will meet the necessary conditions but both are now taking steps to be registered here and to have their qualifications recognised.
In an affidavit, Ms Sweeney said, from information provided by members of the public and CORU's own investigations, the respondents are business partners who work in tandem providing services to families of vulnerable children.
She said CORU had received complaints, including from other therapists, about both women using protected titles without being registered here.
It had written to both women who provided undertakings not to hold themselves out as having the protected titles at issue.
While CORU initially decided not to bring enforcement proceedings on receipt of the undertakings, it had come to court over failure to honour those, she said.
CORU had also received some complaints about the quality of services provided by Bright SPOTS, she said.