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Research and policy update

Academic conference 2018: focus on fitness to practise

Academic conference

Our recent academic conference once again has underlined how important collaboration, cooperation and communication is – both nationally and internationally. Sharing knowledge, examining what does and does not work in health regulation and identifying new ways of working will all contribute to improving patient safety. This year’s conference took place over on 8-9 March. The first day’s focus was on student fitness to practise and included presentations looking at the data on the subject, as well as students’ attitudes towards fitness to practise.

Day two focused fully on all aspects of fitness to practise, with an emphasis on what role research can play in providing insights and helping to improve regulators’ and others’ understanding of behaviour. The day finished off looking at what we should focus our priorities on for fitness to practise in the future, encompassing both student fitness to practise and future issues for fitness to practise in statutory regulation. 

We held the event in collaboration with Professor Tim David from the University of Manchester. Delegates represented academic centres/universities, regulators, research organisations, consultants, government officials, practising clinicians and legal experts.

The conference in stats:

  • 1 ½ days (8-9 March)
  • 105 delegates
  • 36 presentations
  • colleagues from Australia, Belgium, Canada, Ireland, the Netherlands, and the USA as well as all four UK nations.

You can find out more about the conference – the programme, presentations and a short highlights video are all available on our website.

Joint seminar with Welsh Government

We held our first joint seminar with the Welsh Government in February 2018 and hope that it will be the first in a series. It took place at Cardiff Stadium and was attended by 60 people. We came together to explore some of the current developments in health and care regulatory policy in Wales and across the UK. We discussed current issues and challenges influencing Welsh Government policy in this area. We also considered changes in health education and training in Wales, workforce challenges, regulation as an enabler not a barrier and the duty of candour. There was also an address from Vaughan Gething AM, Cabinet Secretary for Health and Social Services.

Big data, Machine learning and healthcare regulation

We co-hosted a seminar with Professor Marty Chamberlain, Swansea University: ‘Big Data, Machine Learning and Healthcare Regulation: Current Impacts and Future Visions’ on 18 April.

Speakers came from the Behavioural Insights Team, Swansea University, Microsoft Healthcare, Google DeepMind, Sheffield University, Drayson Technologies, and the Oxford Internet Institute. The seminar was well attended (40 people) including by the statutory regulators, as well as attendees from a wide range of organisations: the Royal Society of Medicine, Royal College of Nursing, Care Quality Commission, Medicine and Healthcare Products Regulation Agency, NHS Digital and the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges amongst others. The subject of the day was of particular relevance to ongoing work in the sector to use data to support a focus on harm prevention. Read more about our thoughts on this in our summary – Right touch reform - a summary of our thinking on harm prevention.

Professional identity and regulation

Professional identity video explainerWe have published our third report on this subject. It provides an overview of the findings from our literature review and the research we commissioned from Dr Simon Christmas and published last year. The overview ties together these two previous papers, but also sheds more light on the subject with further desk research. In this overview, we ask: ‘Do regulators create or validate professional identity?’

We concluded that:

  • broadly speaking a regulator has the ability to validate and invalidate identity, but does not by itself create identity
  • regulatory requirements for initial registration play a role in the development of individual practice and identity
  • once qualified, regulation has a minimal direct effect on how a practitioner’s professional identity, except in a crisis or out-of-the-ordinary circumstances
  • an individual practitioner can validate their professional identity through identity alignment with a wider community of like-minded practitioners via a register
  • although not the primary purpose of regulation, some practitioners associated statutory regulation with their status in society
  • many factors have a greater or more direct influence on identity than professional regulation, these are usually more local factors such as: rapport with patients and the work environment.

You can read the full paper on our website, as well as the literature review and the research report. Find out more about our research on this subject as well as our short video on the findings from our literature review from our website.

Openness and honesty of professionals: call for information

We are calling for views from organisations and individuals on how professionals can be more open and honest with patients when things go wrong. We are gathering views through an online questionnaire and the deadline to respond is 24 May 2018.

Why now?

It has been five years since the landmark Francis report which called for healthcare professionals to be more open and transparent with patients when things go wrong. At the time, the Authority was asked by the Secretary of State to review the progress of the nine regulators in embedding candour among their registrants. In 2014 we reported to the Secretary of State on their progress.

Four years on from our advice to the Secretary of State, the issue of professionals being candid with patients is just as important and has been much in the news lately.

Therefore, it seems timely for us to explore how far the regulators have progressed in encouraging their registrants to be candid and to inform our report, we are currently calling for viewpoints on this issue. We have already contacted organisations and individuals. However, if we have not contacted you or your organisation, you can still give us your views by filling in the questionnaire by 24 May 2018.

Find out more, including about the context, the questions and the link through to the survey from our website.

Canadian Province asks Authority Chief Executive to review regulator

The Minister of Health for the Government of British Columbia, Canada has asked Harry Cayton, the Authority’s Chief Executive, to conduct a review into the administrative and operational practices of the College of Dental Surgeons of British Columbia. The review is in response to a series of unrelated complaints made against the college. It will produce learnings that the CDSBC and professional colleges throughout British Columbia’s health system will be able to apply as best practices. The Minister commented, ‘I’ve asked Harry Cayton to complete the review to support the college in its continued work in service of the health and safety of British Columbians…We’re working with the college to ensure the public’s best interest and safety remains in the forefront of their actions.’ More information can be found here.

Consultation responses

Coming soon

Look out for new research we have commissioned due to be published next week. The research looks at public and professional attitudes to sexual behaviours between colleagues working in health and care and the potential effect on patient safety or quality of care.

Follow us on twitter @prof_standards to keep up-to-date.