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Renata Drinkwater, one of the Authority's Board members and a Non-Executive Director of an acute hospital trust, reflects how the values of the Professional Standards Authority, especially the focus on public protection are hugely important during times of change and challenge for the health and social care sector.

The values of the Professional Standards Authority underpin all that we do. We are committed to being independent, fair, consistent, proportionate and focused on public protection. All of these values are hugely important, but what most interested me when I was appointed to the Board some two and a half years ago was our focus on public protection, so vital in today’s rapidly changing health and social care sector.

Not only is there increasing demand for services, but also a need to change the ways in which they are provided. In addition to my role on the Authority’s Board, I am a Non-Executive Director of an acute hospital trust, so I see what this means at the healthcare front line. In common with other providers, we are dealing with a population that is living longer, but typically doing so while coping with one (or more) long-term health conditions, requiring support from a much wider range of health and social care professionals than might have been the case in the past. We are also increasingly seeing a situation where patients are no longer passive recipients of care, but where they are increasingly keen to be involved in the planning of their care and to ‘self-manage’ their long-term condition(s) as far as it is practicable and possible to do so. Indeed, there is increasing evidence from the self-management sector (in which I have been involved for many years) that patients want ‘help to help themselves’ from a wide variety of healthcare practitioners.

That is why I have been particularly struck by the way in which the Authority has responded to these changes. It has not only stimulated much needed debate on regulation (the excellent work on Rethinking regulation and Regulation rethought are cases in point), but has also developed and grown the accredited registers scheme, which gives the public much needed confidence when looking for and selecting practitioners providing a wide range of therapies and support. Clearly, we have work to do in further expanding and publicising this initiative, but the benefits it offers to patients are clear.

We are fortunate to have a talented, innovative and committed team led by Harry Cayton, our Chief Executive, to undertake this and the other important work of the Authority. My role, and that of the other Non-Executive Directors, led by our Chair George Jenkins, is to draw on our diverse professional and personal experience to make a creative contribution to the Board and the wider Authority by providing independent oversight and constructive challenge and support. In this way, we can all work together to achieve the Authority’s aims.