Regulating healthcare professionals and protecting the public

Apr 30, 2021

The current UK regulations for healthcare professionals need to be simpler and more flexible. They need to change to better protect patients and service users, support our health services and help the workforce meet future challenges.

The Government wants to bring in a new system called ‘accepted outcomes’ for dealing with concerns about professionals, without a public hearing, and by agreement between the professional and the regulator. Therefore, the issue lies in the fact that the Government does not plan on having an independent body responsible for challenging any unsafe accepted outcomes.

Not only is this a clear departure from the current system but it is also in direct confrontation with the Professional Standards Authority for Health and Social Care’s prior recommendations to the Government. In other words, the new model would allow ‘anyone’ to ask for a review and what this would mean in all likelihood is that patients and service users would have to do this themselves.

In addition to this, the final say about whether an outcome should be changed because it is unsafe would sit with the regulator, rather than with the courts as it does now. Therefore, this new model would make the regulator not only investigator, prosecutor, and judge, but also appeal court. In other words, a return to the system of 20 years ago which was widely criticised. Therefore, our concern is that this concentration of powers could mean that mistakes are not spotted or challenged.

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