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National bioethics committee has not met in over 30 months

In March 2012, the then Minister for Health Dr James Reilly established the NACB to advise “on the ethical and social implications of scientific developments in human medicine and healthcare”.

Since its foundation the NACB has considered a number of issues and published opinion documents on topics including consent for blood transfusion and detention of voluntary and involuntary patients in mental health facilities.

Its most recent document was ‘Nudging in Public Health – An Ethical Framework’, which was published in April 2016.

However, the NACB has not met since September 2015, over 30 months ago.

“No decision has been made regarding the next topic on the work programme for the NACB… Given that the topic of NACB’s next project has yet to be determined, no specific date has been selected for the NACB’s next meeting,” a Department of Health spokesperson told the Medical Independent (MI).

The NACB chair Prof Andrew Green, who is a Clinical Geneticist at Our Lady’s Children’s Hospital Crumlin, Dublin and Professor of Medical Genetics at University College Dublin, told MI that the NACB is “available to provide bioethical advice to the Minister on any bioethical issues, which he wishes the Committee to consider”.

A number of experts in the field of bioethics have told this newspaper they have concerns that since the dissolution of the Irish Council for Bioethics (ICB) in late 2010 there has been no adequate public policy and medical forum in which to conduct debates and discussions around bioethical challenges.

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