DH seeks views to reform the regulation system for healthcare professionals in the UK

Published: 14 November 2017 Ezine

To reform what is described as a 'historical patchwork' and 'inconsistency, in both practice and legislation', the Department for Health has launched a consultation on the future of regulation of healthcare professionals.

The foreword to the consultation document, Promoting professionalism, reforming regulation, says, "While the healthcare regulators are generally effective in protecting the public from serious harm, there has been criticism, not least from the regulators themselves, that the system is slow, expensive, complicated, reactive, overly adversarial and confusing for patients, professionals and employers.

"This complexity makes it difficult for the regulators to operate as effectively and efficiently as they would wish. It also makes it difficult for patients to know when and how to raise concerns about the care provided by a healthcare professional."

The text continues, "We need a UK-wide system of professional regulation that... supports the development of high quality professionals. This needs to be complemented by a culture that enables professionals to learn from their experiences, including from their mistakes. All too often professionals encounter a culture of blame rather than learning."

The aim of the consultation, says the DH, is to 'considers what reforms are needed across the UK healthcare regulatory system in order to support workforce development while maximising public protection in a more efficient way.'

The document points out that regulation relies on legislation that, in part, was developed more than 150 years ago. It also notes that there are 32 professions regulated by nine independent healthcare professional regulators. A further 55 occupations are covered by 24 accredited voluntary registers.

"From the perspective of patients and the public, the current system of regulation can be confusing, inconsistent and slow. People are not always clear which professionals are regulated by which regulatory body or against which standards," it comments.

"Staff working side by side in teams might be accountable to different bodies and working to different sets of standards. Different regulators might impose different sanctions for similar professional failings. Employers have to interact with numerous different professional regulators.

"Investigations into allegations made about professionals to their regulators (known as fitness to practise procedures) are lengthy and can be frustrating for patients, registrants and employers."

The consultation asks a series of questions around 'three key themes': protecting the public; responsive regulation; and efficient regulation.

Details of the consultation and the consultation document are available from the DH website.  

The Society and College is preparing an organisational response and if you would like your feedback to the consultation to be considered for inclusion in the SCoR document, please email by Monday, 8 January 2018.

"We also encourage SCoR members to respond directly by the consultation deadline of 23 January," says Charlotte Beardmore, the Society's director of professional policy.

"It is is very important that the voice of the radiography workforce is heard and members use the opportunity to say what they want for the future regulation of the profession."