As the Virgin Islands Party (VIP) Government- led by Premier and Minister of Finance, Honourable Andrew A. Fahie (R1)- motors on with executing their legislative agenda, an act that will challenge the 'status quo' has been amended and passed in the House of Assembly (HoA)
The Medical Act, 2000 has been amended to the Medical (Amendment) Act, 2020, and was passed during the Eleventh Sitting of the Second session of the Fourth House of Assembly on July 7, 2020.
Premier Fahie, during the HoA debates on July 2, 2020, had said the bill sought to update the Medical Act, 2000 and to update how the registration of medical practitioners will be done.
‘Status quo shall not remain’- Hon Fahie
He said one of the things his Government has made clear is that it will make changes to the Territory through legislative procedures “and we want to make sure that we open up the Territory by looking at legislations, whether through amendments or new legislation.
“And one of the things we have to open it up for is because we have grown to have an economy that is controlled by the elected officials on who will make it in the Virgin Islands and who will not, even in the medical field.”
Hon Fahie continued that there are some in different fields who want to decide that only they should make it and nobody else unless they give the go-ahead.
He said a challenge to the status quo will be met with resistance but the status quo will not remain.
"As we come to update this legislation to allow for more persons to be involved in the medical field, to make sure that they are registered... we realised this government takes a lot of licks in the media from certain quarters that want the status quo, the medical status quo and the financial status quo all around, to remain, but it shall not remain"
We have a better medical bill- Hon Malone
Sponsor of the bill, Deputy Premier and Minister for Health and Social Development, Hon Carvin Malone (AL), Speaking in the HoA on July 7, 2020, said his Ministry, BVI Health Services Authority, private practitioners, the VI Medical and Dental Council, Nurses and Midwives Council, and the BVI Allied Health Professionals Council all contributed immensely in the 148 hours to the bill, which was first given first instructions to be drafted in 2015.
The Medical Act, 2020 provides for the registration of medical, dental and allied health practitioners and it regulates the sale of drugs and poisons in the Virgin Islands.
The VI Medical and Dental Council and the BVI Allied Health Professionals Council, according to Hon Malone, are established under this act to process the credentials of persons entering into the practice of medicine, dentistry or allied health professions in the Territory.
According to Hon Malone, the Act allows for the creation of a special register for dental and medical practitioners with additional specialist qualifications and sets out the acceptable qualifications for such.
He said this provides for the protection of the public and the basis for privileging of practitioners with specialist skills to carry out specific procedures within the Health Services Authority and other private practices.
Hon Malone also said the amendment clearly lays out the definitions of professional misconduct which were not clearly defined, and stiffens the penalties under the Act.
“I am proud to state that after much debate and much involvement that there were amendments, some of which were substantial and some were minor, but all to a better medical bill that we now have,” Hon Malone said.