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Research and policy update

Academic Conference highlights

Watch the highlights of our most recent academic and research conference

Covid 19 and policy work

Our policy team has been working closely with policy leads across the regulators and our own staff in our scrutiny team, looking at a range of factors emerging as a result of the pandemic and the regulators’ responses. This has included monitoring how health and social care regulators are using their emergency registration powers to increase the workforce available. We are also tracking the changes they are making to help them make sure they do not inadvertently introduce risks to patient safety that might be avoided. 

It is important for us all to consider whether the safeguards that would usually be in place are still functioning. For example, when concerns emerged that some do not attempt resuscitation orders (DNRs) were being imposed on patients without their usual proper consideration, the regulators we oversee responded by issuing guidance. We have checked with other regulatory bodies that action is also being taken to review and alter any that should not have been imposed. 

Cooperation and collaboration

Academic and research conference

We held our academic and research conference at the beginning of March. With one eye on the news as the number of Coronavirus cases in the UK increased, and the other eye on government advice – the conference took place under slightly surreal circumstances. It was held under strict pre-lockdown hygiene conditions. Despite this, the 2020 conference was an enriching and thought-provoking event, as contributors from a variety of backgrounds in the regulatory landscape were invited to share research, reflect and assess their findings, and talk about what lies in store for regulation in the future. We were joined by our academic partner Robert Jago, Senior Lecturer in Law at Royal Holloway University of London, to discuss the potential opportunities and challenges for regulation in a rapidly changing environment.

The overarching question ‘Will regulation matter?’ led us to ask how regulation would adapt to change in the future. When we decided on this theme, we had no idea that a world-changing pandemic would unfurl but the conference revealed some useful lessons. The best way to adapt to change – and this conference demonstrated this – is to talk to each other across the world; to work together across disciplines, backgrounds and geographies, in order to effect meaningful change.

The range of international perspectives proved to be a key success of this year’s conference, with speakers from Australia, Belgium, Canada, Colombia and the USA, among others coming to the Royal Society of Arts in London to provide their unique perspectives and insight.

It is apparent that for regulation to be as effective as it can be in the future, regulators must be agile, willing to collaborate, and to continually assess, learn, and adapt – as more recent events have also shown.

Watch some of our conference delegates explain how research has played an important part in making regulation more effective – identifying issues, understanding the context and leading to improvements in processes and policies. Or you can also watch the highlights or read through the presentations.

Policy and Research forum meeting

We held our first virtual meeting with policy regulatory colleagues on 30 April – Covid-19 of course dominated discussions, but it gave us all the opportunity to take stock of the first six weeks of lockdown and how regulation is adapting to the challenges. Our colleagues were able to share an update on their response to the pandemic in terms of policy activity. It was, most importantly, an opportunity to identify points of shared concern and interest, so that we can work collaboratively to address and manage them, in a time where collaboration may appear to be most challenging. Find out more about what was discussed in this blog.

Regulatory developments and the Welsh context

This was a seminar we held jointly with the Welsh Government in mid-February, which seems a long time ago now. It was well-attended with over 70 stakeholders present to discuss priorities for reform of professional regulation, the developing role of Health Education and Improvement Wales in health education and workforce planning, introducing the statutory duties of candour and quality in Wales and taking a risk-based approach to the regulation of health and care roles. Key themes arising from these discussions included:

  • balancing the need for regulators to respond with agility to change, and maintaining a coherent system that supports a multi-professional workforce, and is easy for stakeholders and the public to navigate and understand
  • ensuring that key learnings for the whole system can be drawn out and addressed
  • ensuring that patient engagement is meaningful
  • embedding a culture of candour (being open and honest) in all aspects of health and care delivery and the opportunity for Wales to learn from those who have implemented it elsewhere in the UK
  • the range of levers available to ensure safety and accountability of health and care roles – supervision by another professional, employer controls, professional bodies, voluntary registers, commissioner standards, credentialing as well as statutory regulation and protection of title.

Woman and man silhouetteFind out more about how our research can contribute to public protection in this short case study about the report we published on health professionals crossing sexual boundaries with their colleagues and whether it can impact on patient safety.