The Department for Health and Social Care is currently consulting on proposals to reform the regulation of healthcare professionals. In general terms there are a number of positive proposals, particularly in relation to the proposed changes to the fitness to practise procedures.
The consultation document covers four key areas:
- Governance and operating framework: which includes proposals to devolve matters relating to governance and operating structure to the individual regulator; new obligation for regulators to provide annual reports to Government; proposals to strengthen the duties to collaborate; and proposals in relation to keeping registrant fees consistent and to a minimum.
- Education and training: which includes proposals that regulators have much wider powers in relation to setting training and educational standards; and gives regulators the power to approve and provide ongoing quality assurance for specific training programmes and courses (and apply conditions and/or warnings when standards are not adhered to).
- Registration: which proposes allowing the annotation of entries on the register to reflect the fact that a registrant may have successfully completed approved training courses; the removal of GP and Specialist registers; that the emergency registration powers introduced by the Coronavirus Act (2020) are made permanent; that fraudulent use of a protected title is moved from a strict liability offence to an offence that mandates consideration of intent; that new minimum requirements (including English language standards) for prospective overseas registrants are specified in the legislation; and that regulators will have a new power to suspend registrants for administrative reasons (for example – payment arrears, a failure to provide current contact details etc), the current position being that regulators only option is to remove such registrants from the register.
- Fitness to practise: which proposes that a three stage procedure is introduced, which includes an initial assessment stage, a case examiner stage and a fitness to practise panel stage –mirroring current GMC; it also proposes that the grounds for action are reduced to Lack of competence and Misconduct; and that where a registrant is convicted of a listed offence (based on the list in Schedule 3 of the Social Work Regulations), they can be automatically removed from the register; that the 5 year rule is waived; that regulators have greater flexibility to deal with multiple concerns as a single case rather than having several different cases; that case examiners have the power to impose interim measures; and that changes are made to the process by which MPT (fitness to practice panel equivalent) decisions are reviewed.
The consultation document, which includes a link to submit a response, and our response can be found here:
The consultation closes on 16 June 2021 (at 12.15 pm)