Abu Dhabi: The UAE government today outlined stricter penalties for practising a health profession without a licence, under a series of newly-approved federal laws and amendments, focusing primarily on the regulation of health professions, private health institutions, and the veterinary sector.
The amendments to health profession regulations emphasise harsher action against those practicing without a valid license or failing to meet necessary professional standards. These changes highlight the essential ethics and responsibilities that health practitioners are bound to uphold. Additionally, disciplinary sanctions will be regularly reviewed and adjusted based on the nature of the violations.
The new regulations also set guidelines for the professional conduct of non-physician health workers across various disciplines. Notable areas impacted by this decision include nursing, medical laboratories, medical physics, occupational therapy, physiotherapy, cosmetology, anaesthesia, audiology, and medical radiology.
The law clearly dictates that any individual practicing the health profession without the necessary license or failing to meet the requisite conditions for obtaining it will face severe repercussions. Those who provide fraudulent documents, misinformation, or employ illicit means to unjustly secure a license are not exempted.
Additionally, anyone who falsely promotes themselves as licensed, through the use of leaflets, boards, or any other medium, deceives the public. Such violations will be met with stringent penalties, including potential imprisonment and fines ranging between Dh50,000 and Dh100,000.
Offenders might face either or both of these penalties. Furthermore, a conclusive guilty verdict will result in the revocation of the license, deletion of the violator’s name from the professional registry, and the court holds the discretion to mandate the closure of the establishment where the offense took place.
The law mandates a fine ranging from Dh10,000 to Dh100,000 for individuals who, although meeting the criteria for a health profession license, start practicing or promoting themselves through leaflets, paintings, or any other media before officially obtaining the said license. In such cases, the court also reserves the right to shut down the establishment where the infringement took place.
Moreover, the law emphasises that health practitioners licensed prior to the enactment of these new provisions need to update their status to comply with the latest regulations. They must do so either within the remaining period of their current licenses or within six months from the date when the law’s executive regulations become effective, opting for the longer duration of the two.
Sanctions against establishments
A notable inclusion in the amendment is the introduction of monetary penalties for health establishments found guilty of minor infractions. Such violations wouldn’t warrant actions like temporary shutdowns of the facility, either in entirety or partially, or necessitate suspension of its director, the individual overseeing its operations, or any staff member. This approach aims to maintain consistent services from private health facilities and guarantee uninterrupted health service delivery to patrons.
Under the revised legislation, any director, individual in charge of a health facility’s operations, or any of its employees who contravene the law, its executive guidelines, or related decisions, are liable to face consequences as determined by the health authority.
These sanctions could range from a formal warning to a fine between Dh1,000 and Dh500,000. Additionally, offenders could be suspended from their duties for up to six months or even face a permanent ban from working in the field.
On a broader scale, if a private health institution breaches any stipulated regulations, the health authority has the power to issue a formal warning, impose fines ranging from Dh1,000 to Dh1 million, or order a temporary or permanent closure of the facility, either in whole or in part.
Importantly, before any penalties are levied, the accused party or their legal representative will be given an opportunity to present a defence. Should they fail to make an appearance or provide a defence, the health authority may proceed to impose sanctions based on the existing documentation.
The law mandates that no individual is permitted to practice a health profession without obtaining a license from the health authority. This licensure should be in alignment with this law’s provisions, its executive regulations, and the related decisions. To secure a license:
• The individual must possess a recognised academic degree or qualification within the UAE in the specific health field they aim to practice in.
• They should exhibit good moral character and be medically fit to execute their professional duties.
• They must fulfil the standards set for licensing health practitioners, as defined by a resolution from the Council of Ministers.
Further conditions or guidelines for licensure may be detailed in the law’s executive regulations.
Per the stipulations of the law, the Ministry of Health and Prevention, or any federal or local health authority, is responsible for receiving and evaluating licensing applications for health professions. The legislation strictly prohibits health professionals from engaging in practices such as selling medicines or their samples to patients, endorsing or promoting these medicines, or directing patients to purchase from a specified pharmacy.
Additionally, the law emphatically bans the submission of falsified documents or incorrect information to health authorities or employers. It also mandates the confidentiality of patient information, forbidding health practitioners from disclosing any patient-related secrets they may become privy to during their professional practice.
The law highlights the importance of ethical standards and responsibilities that all health practitioners must uphold. Practitioners are mandated to operate strictly within the confines of their granted license and the license of the health institution they are affiliated with. Moreover, they must remain well-versed with both federal and local legislation associated with health practices.
Their duties must be performed with the utmost precision and honesty, rooted in scientific and technical principles, ensuring they never exploit a patient’s vulnerabilities. It’s imperative for practitioners to maintain the honour and dignity intrinsic to the health profession, fostering a spirit of collaboration with their peers.
They are also expected to consistently adhere to the code of ethical and professional conduct laid out by the Ministry of Health and Prevention. As the medical field is ever-evolving, practitioners are encouraged to engage in continuous personal and professional development, remaining abreast of the latest advancements in their speciality. The sharing of knowledge is equally emphasised, alongside ensuring that every patient is treated with respect and without any prejudice.
The revisions also include the establishment of a national register for licensed health professionals within the country, to be maintained by the Ministry of Health and Prevention. Alongside this, a distinct register is established for the health authority, which will be interconnected with the national registry.
Furthermore, they grant foreign entrepreneurs and investors permission to establish and own veterinary facilities, boosting the country’s appeal for foreign investment in the veterinary sector.
The revisions now expand to the Federal Law concerning the Veterinary Profession. The updated legislation establishes a regulatory blueprint for the veterinary sector, aligning it with premier scientific and global benchmarks. It is designed to boost the competency of veterinary practitioners and enhance the quality of services they offer.
Key changes in the law aim to simplify the licensing process, focusing on bolstering employment opportunities within the country’s veterinary facilities. There has been a reshuffling in the experience criteria for licensing domestic veterinarians and recent graduates. Additionally, veterinarians and those involved in related veterinary medical roles will benefit from fee waivers, especially those affiliated with federal and local governmental bodies.
The law has been further revised to permit entrepreneurs and foreign investors to set up and possess veterinary facilities. This move is strategically aimed at bolstering foreign investment within the nation’s veterinary sector.
Additionally, the law introduces a restructured system for registering veterinarians and professionals in the auxiliary veterinary medical field. A centralised registry will be established under the Ministry of Climate Change and Environment to record the details of licensed veterinarians and associated veterinary medical professionals.