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Radical reform of regulation must begin now

We are still waiting for the government's response to its consultation on Promoting professionalism, reforming regulation. In this blog, our Director of Standards and Policy, Christine Braithwaite explains why the regulatory system cannot afford to stand still and sets out the five key areas where we would like to see reform.

Three years ago, we called for radical reform of professional regulation. Our publication, Rethinking regulation set out the problems with the current system, which was not designed to support modern, multi-disciplinary team led care. It struck a common chord with health professionals and others who agreed reform is urgently needed and long overdue.

Whilst we still await the government’s response to its consultation Promoting professionalism, reforming regulation the regulatory system cannot afford to stand still. Whether we get all the radical solutions we called for in Right-touch reform and our response to the consultation or only some, the radical shift we called for is crucial. As we said, much can be achieved with ‘cooperation, imagination, innovation and determination’.

There are five key areas for action:

  • Defining and developing the regulators’ role in preventing harm. Work many of them refer to as moving ‘upstream’ to help avert harm before it happens. This includes using data from registration, education and fitness to practise.
  • Modernising fitness to practise balancing efficiency, flexibility, and a more rehabilitative approach with maintaining public protection and public confidence. Much of this requires legislation but regulators are already changing the way they work.
  • Shaping professionalism through standards, education and training and continuing fitness to practise processes, such as revalidation.
  • Achieving greater coherence and coordination between regulators and others so that they work together seamlessly to protect the public and promote professionalism.
  • Future-proofing – developing the agility to adapt and respond to innovations such as online services, robotics, artificial intelligence, new workforce roles, many of which present new ethical and regulatory challenges.

In our next series of blogs, we will shine a light on the work being done by regulators, the Authority and others to advance these. Our first Futurology Symposium will be held early next year, bringing regulators and innovators together to discuss and prepare for the future.

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Please note the views expressed in these blogs are those of the individual bloggers and do not necessarily reflect those of the Professional Standards Authority.