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Research and policy update

Research into attitudes to dishonest behaviour by health and care professionals

How do the public and other regulated professionals perceive dishonest behaviour by health and care professionals? We commissioned Policis to conduct research to find out more about this issue, especially as in many of the decisions about practitioners that we review and go on to appeal, we find that dishonesty has not been properly taken into account.

Though you may expect some divergence of opinions, the research reveals that most of the focus groups came to a consensus, especially when dishonest behaviour related to those professions dealing with vulnerable individuals (such as social work or psychiatry). Views were explored through focus groups and those taking part in them considered nine scenarios (largely drawn from real-life fitness to practise cases appealed by the Authority).

The scenarios were oriented around different types of dishonesty – ranging from dishonesty in relation to working at another job, theft from patients or colleagues and lying about qualifications and/or employment history.

One of the report’s findings is that public perceptions of dishonesty’s effects on fitness to practise differed by profession and the type of dishonesty perpetrated, especially if the dishonest act did not relate directly to the profession’s practice. This was also reflected in the kind of sanctions expected. For example, a dentist’s tax fraud was deemed to be less harmful than a social worker who was working two different jobs and considered to be putting children’s safety at risk. 

The report poses questions for consideration regarding the future of fitness to practise for example a re-orientation of FtP towards rehabilitation, learning and behaviour change.

Dishonesty visual

An updated pdf is now available on our website after we noticed a duplication of one of the case studies.

Developing a risk-based method for assessing the need for regulation

We are continuing our work to develop a new risk based model for assessing the level of oversight required for different occupations and professions. The new model will develop a risk profile to look at occupations based on assessing the likely level of risk involved.

This assessment will cover the interventions carried out and the context in which the practitioner is working and the vulnerability of the patients or service users that they are working with. It will then consider additional criteria such as the size of the professional group and market, which may also have an impact on a decision about whether regulation would be appropriate, before reaching a final conclusion over what action should be taken.

There is currently no clear, transparent system for making decisions on whether occupations should be regulated or what the most proportionate level of oversight would be. This new model will allow government to reach an evidence-based decision about which professions need to be regulated.