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Regulatory news

Performance Review 2014/2015

Each year we carry out reviews of all nine regulators. This is our check on how well the regulators have been protecting the public and promoting confidence in health and care professionals and themselves. We have launched our revised review process.

This year we will publish individual reports about each regulator as we finish their review, as well as publishing an ‘Overview of professional regulation and registration’ as part of our Annual Report to Parliament. We are currently reviewing the Health and Care Professions Council, General Osteopathic Council, General Pharmaceutical Council and General Chiropractic Council.

Protecting the public

We currently have 11 appeals lodged with the High Court.
We successfully defended a claim for damages in the County Court brought by a registrant who had been struck off the Nursing and Midwifery Council’s register as a result of an appeal by the Authority.

  • There have been two important changes:
  • General Medical Council now has the power to appeal decisions made by the Medical Practitioners’ Tribunal Service. We are able to join these appeals as a party, or where the GMC does not appeal, we may refer Medical Practitioners' Tribunal Service decisions to the courts in the usual way.

Our threshold for appeals has also changed. Rather than ‘unduly lenient’ decisions, we may now refer decisions to the courts which are ‘not sufficient’ (whether as to a finding or a penalty or both) for the protection of the public.

General Dental Council investigation

Last December, we published the report of our investigation into the General Dental Council’s handling of a whistleblower’s disclosure about the Investigating Committee. The report went to the Department of Health and the Health Committee. It was referred to in Parliamentary debates during January 2016 about the proposals to update the GDC’s legislative framework.

The investigation report sets out our findings about:

  • The GDC’s management of the processes and support for its Investigating Committee in the period since the publication of our 2013 report into concerns raised by the former Chair of the GDC
  • The GDC’s response to that 2013 report, including the adequacy of the information provided to the GDC’s Audit and Risk Committee, Appointments Committee and its Council
  • The adequacy of the GDC’s whistleblowing policy and its operation in practice, as evidenced by the GDC’s response to the whistleblower’s disclosure.
    Some interesting points came out of the report, and regulators may be particularly interested in:
  • The risks to the independence of fitness to practise decision-making if staff breach appropriate boundaries in their interactions with those decision-makers
  • The importance of effective scrutiny by senior management and internal oversight bodies of the information provided by staff about operational processes
  • The importance of investigating whistleblowing allegations thoroughly, following internal procedures, and providing whistleblowers with appropriate protection and support during the process.

One of our main conclusions is that some of the practices operated by some Investigating Committee staff at the GDC during 2013 infringed upon the appropriate separation of powers. This had serious implications for the GDC and that there was inadequate internal oversight of those staff practices by the GDC’s senior management and by the Audit/Audit and Risk Committees.

We highlight our concerns about the adequacy of the information presented to the Appointments and Audit/Audit and Risk Committees and to the GDC’s Council, as well as to GDC staff and GDC associates. We also have serious concerns about how the GDC handled the whistleblower’s disclosure and the whistleblower’s subsequent complaint that they had been subjected to detrimental treatment as a result of their whistle-blowing.

The report notes remedial action taken by the GDC since the events and we will be monitoring the actions the GDC takes in response to our investigation.

Rosalyn Hayles
Director of Scrutiny and Quality