Bill: New licences for medical field

Doctors, nurses and other medical professionals, including massage therapists and dieticians, will be required to get new practising licenses, according to proposed amendments to the Health Practice Law. 

At the moment, health practice councils issue annual certificates of registration to medical practitioners in the Cayman Islands. The new two-year practising licences will replace the annual registration process, which Health Minister Mark Scotland described as “onerous”. 

Under the bill to amend the legislation, which was published in the Cayman Islands Gazette on Wednesday, 20 February, it will be mandatory for all registered practitioners to get the new licence to practise in Cayman.  

Mr. Scotland said that while medical practitioners will need to register when they first start practising in the Cayman Islands, instead of registering anew each year, the proposed licensing process would be less time consuming and complicated. 

existing annual registration fee to practise is $800 for medical
doctors, dentists, dental hygienists, podiatrists, osteopaths and
chiropractors and $400 for other health practitioners including
acupuncturists, massage therapists, social workers, and dieticians.* 

The bill did not stipulate what the licensing fees would be, but Mr. Scotland said they would be similar to the existing yearly registration fees. 

“Now, every year, by law, it is required they [the medical professionals] go through the same due diligence to register. The councils go through the applications and checks that [the applicants] are qualified and experienced,” Mr. Scotland said. 

Medical councils can waive, on the governor’s recommendation, the licensing fees of government-employed practitioners, according to the bill. 

Practitioners who fail to renew their licences over a five-year period will be removed from the registration list, unless he or she applies to the relevant council to be retained on the register and pay a prescribed fee. 

One proposed amendment to the law offers stronger legal protection to first-aiders. It stipulates that “in cases where a person meets with an accident or is taken suddenly ill and no person licensed under principal Law is immediately available, it shall not be an offence if any person present, having knowledge of first aid, conveys or causes to be conveyed the injured or sick person from a place of immediate danger and protects such person from shock and from excessive loss of blood”. 

The bill will also require managers of all healthcare facilities to display a notice that a list of fees for health services are available upon request, replacing the current requirement to display a list of fees. 

Among the amendments is a reduction in the length of time – from 30 days to 21 days – in which practitioners can make written representations to a health practice council if that council is considering refusing an application for a registration certificate.  

The bill also addresses medical malpractice insurance, removing a clause stipulating that operators of healthcare facilities must provide malpractice insurance or indemnity cover for the registered practitioners working at the facility, and replacing it with a clause stating that the facilities operators shall ensure the registered medical staff have such coverage. 

According to the explanatory notes accompanying the bill, this clause was amended so that the “cost of the insurance or cover would not necessarily be borne by the facility”. 

The bill removes a requirement for a visiting practitioners list or
overseas list to be maintained in a register. Overseas practitioners are
required to register with the relevant medical council and obtain a
practising licence to practise medicine in the Cayman Islands.* 

It also replaces the phrase “special registration” – introduced in the last round of amendments on the Health Practice Law in 2011 – with “institutional registration”. In the existing version of the law, special registration lasts two years and can be repeatedly renewed. The bill calls for institutional registration to also last two years, but it can only be renewed for two consecutive periods of two years. 

The government introduced the “special registration” designation during amendments to the law in 2011 that allow practitioners licensed in an expanded list of countries to practise in the Cayman Islands. This was one of the conditions placed on the government by Indian surgeon Dr. Devi Shetty in his proposal to bring his medical tourism hospital to Grand Cayman. 

Prior to those amendments, only practitioners whose qualifications had been gained in one of seven designated countries could practise in Cayman. 

Professionals with “institutional registration” would only be able to practise at specific health facilities and not transfer to other medical units, so a doctor with an institutional registration who came to work for the Shetty Hospital, or Health City Cayman Islands as it is officially known, could not go to work for another hospital or facility in the islands.


Editor’s Note: This article has been amended from the original to reflect corrected information on health practice fees and the registration of overseas practitioners.

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