Welcome to the winter edition of ‘The Standard’
Reflections on the past year
It is just over a year since I took up my post as Chair and to say that we are living through interesting times is probably a bit of an understatement. Certainly what happens in the political sphere will affect the world of professional health and care regulation, though it could take a few years before we know exactly how.
In the meantime, we have to get on with the day job and the last year has certainly been a very busy one doing just that. The Authority has changed its approach to how it conducts its performance reviews of the nine health and care regulators – producing a separate report for each of them throughout the year on a rolling basis, rather than just one longer report once a year. This is in line with our overall right-touch approach to regulation, meaning that reviews are proportionate and timely and should help parliament and the public to have confidence in the regulators as we identify strengths as well as feedback learning points to them. To date we have published five reports, with four more to be completed by the end of March and the next round of reviews for 2017/18 have already begun.
The accredited registers programme continues to grow. Four new registers were accredited in 2016 and all the current registers have applied to renew their accreditation. This year looks set to be fairly busy and we already have a few registers seeking to achieve accreditation. Our ambition for this year is to make sure that the accredited registers’ quality mark is more widely recognised and to raise awareness about the registers among those responsible for commissioning health and care services, so that when they refer patients or customers on to other practitioners, for example to counsellors or sports therapists, they use practitioners on an accredited register.
In September, we published our follow-up to Rethinking regulation. In Regulation rethought – we set out our views for a radical reform of health and care professional regulation and outlined the three principles we will use to test out our proposals for change and believe that the health and professional regulatory system should be:
- proportionate to the harm it seeks to prevent
- simple to understand and operate
- efficient and cost-effective.
Those three principles may be common-sense. In an ideal world, if you were to start health and care regulation from scratch – they would probably underpin any new system. Unfortunately, professional regulation (and the laws that govern it) has evolved in a piecemeal fashion over the last 200 years, as and when a problem was identified or a new profession recognised. Because much of it is written in law a quick change is out of the question. As is a sudden stop, if it becomes apparent that something is not working in the way it was designed to.
My one wish for this year is that the Government does consult on the reform of professional regulation and we can start to build a system that is fit for the 21st century and beyond, rather than a system that is stuck in the past. Regulation should not be a burden weighing us down. It should be there to instill in the public a sense of trust and confidence in both health and care professionals and the organisations that manage their registration. It should ensure that the public are well-protected and that when things do go wrong, problems can be easily identified and quickly addressed. However, I do know that, outside of legislation, regulators are already engaged in this debate – so watch this space.
Finally, I would like to thank our outgoing Board members – Jayne Scott, Stuart MacDonnell, and Andrew Hind – for their commitment, professionalism and all their hard work during their time on the Board. I would also like to welcome our new Board members – Moi Ali, Frances Done and Tom Frawley and I look forward to working with them over the coming year. Hopefully one of our first tasks might be to respond to a Government consultation on the reform of professional regulation.
George Jenkins OBE
See more details about our work last year in our 2016 round up.