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Regulatory news

New Director

Mark Stobbs has now taken over from Ros Hayles as the Authority’s new Director of Scrutiny and Quality and has spent his first few weeks finding his feet and getting to know the job and meeting with the regulators. Find out more about his first impressions of health and social care regulation in this edition’s Viewpoint.

Reviewing the performance of regulators: new process

The new performance review process is now well bedded in and several regulator reviews are underway. We have just published our first report under this new process on the General Osteopathic Council, which has met all of the Standards of Good Regulation. We will publish reports on the Health and Care Professions Council and the General Pharmaceutical Council soon and we look set to complete our reviews within the financial year.

This new process aims to be less burdensome on the regulators. We will collate what we learn from our first audits and then adapt the review depending on what the audits reveal. This way we can provide a more targeted and proportionate review, concentrating our resources on any areas of concern highlighted during the initial audit. The new process reflects our thinking around right-touch regulation. We would welcome your feedback on how it is working.

If you would like to know more about our performance review process or the schedule for the rest of the year, you can find more details on our website. Also if you would like to share your experience of interactions with regulators, you can also find out how to do this on our website. Information provided to us can be very helpful during our annual reviews of the regulators' performance.

Review of professional regulation and registration 2015/16 published

Fitness to practise trends 

Usually at this time of year we would publish a large volume reviewing all the regulators in one document as part of our annual report process and our statutory duty to report to Parliament. However, as mentioned earlier, this year we have taken a different tack, we are reviewing regulators on a 12-month rolling cycle and publishing separate reports on each of them. Therefore as part of our annual report, we included instead an overview of professional regulation and registration which gave us the opportunity to outline a number of initiatives taken by the regulators during the last year to improve public protection and patient safety. Failure to hold adequate indemnity insurance, dishonesty, duty of candour and continuing fitness to practise are just some of the topics we touch upon. We also provided an update on the accredited registers programme as part of the report.

Protecting the public

We are continuing to scrutinise disciplinary cases: we currently have nine live appeals (seven with the High Court of Justice in England and Wales and two with the Court of Session in Scotland). We have also been granted permission to appeal a decision of the High Court to the Court of Appeal in the case of an HCPC registrant.

We have yet to argue an appeal at a hearing under the new threshold where a decision is ‘not sufficient’ (whether as to a finding or a penalty or both) for the protection of the public. However, several have been disposed of by Consent Order where we agreed either to the imposition of a more severe sanction or to the case being sent back to the regulator for a new hearing.

We are currently looking at how best to disseminate learning points arising from those cases which cause us concern but which do not meet the high bar to be appealed to the relevant court. We will be discussing the most useful approach to take with the regulators.