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Research and Policy

In the final weeks before its dissolution, Parliament passed a number of pieces of legislation that will change the health and care professional regulatory landscape. The first of these is The General Medical Council (Fitness to Practise and Over-arching Objective) and the Professional Standards Authority for Health and Social Care (References to Court) Order 2015. This section 60 Order will change the GMC’s legislation to make the Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service (MPTS) a statutory committee of the GMC, and to give the GMC the power to appeal the fitness to practise (FtP) decisions made by the MPTS. It will also change the GMC’s over-arching objective and the Authority’s threshold for appealing FtP decisions to the High Court – a power we will continue to have in relation to MPTS cases (and retain for the other regulators we oversee).

The Health and Social Care (Safety and Quality) Act 2015 started life as a Private Member’s Bill brought by Jeremy Lefroy MP. It will amend our over-arching duty, along with those of all but two of the nine regulators we oversee (the GMC’s is being amended through the s.60 Order described above; for the PSNI, the change must be brought by the Government in Northern Ireland). These new objectives will match the new GMC objective and the wording of the Authority’s amended appeal threshold. We understand that these two pieces of legislation will be brought into force later in the year.

In addition, a section 60 Order (The Health Care and Associated Professions (Knowledge of English) Order 2015) was passed that will give the Nursing and Midwifery Council, the General Dental Council (GDC), the General Pharmaceutical Council, and the Pharmaceutical Society of Northern Ireland new powers in relation to registrants’ English language skills. These powers are similar to those given to the GMC in 2014.

Two section 60 Orders which the Government had consulted on either were not laid or were not passed before Parliament rose: the GDC Order amending aspects of their fitness to practise processes, and an Order bringing non-medical public health specialists under the regulatory remit of the Health and Care Professions Council.

We recently published …

Two pieces of social work research completed for us by King’s College London and University of East Anglia (UEA). These will help inform how we oversee the regulation of social workers in England. The UEA report looks at what people who use social work services and other members of the public think about the conduct, competence and regulation of social workers in England. The King’s report looks at the diversity of roles social workers in England perform and the main issues of relevance to regulating the profession.

We held our annual academic conference … 

In March we held our annual research conference in collaboration with Gerry McGivern, Professor of Organisational Analysis, Warwick Business School.

At these events we bring together academics, researchers and regulatory practitioners.  The intention of our events is to stimulate interest in, opportunity for and use of research to improve regulation.

The theme of this year’s conference was assessing the impact of regulators. We are interested in the impact of regulation in the widest sense, including for example the behavioural impact of regulators on individual registrants, the contribution of regulators to safety, and the costs and benefits of regulation looking at its economic impact on individuals, organisations and markets.

Look out for …

We are currently reviewing our guidance Right-touch regulation, through an extensive project involving research with patients and the public, a review of the literature on risk, an event with regulators, accredited registers, and academics, and a call for views. We expect to publish the final reports in the summer. For any enquiries, please contact Dinah Godfree, Senior Policy Adviser, dinah.godfree@professionalstandards.org.uk.

Douglas Bilton
Assistant Director of Standards and Policy