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Regulators’ update

Health and care regulators

Government consultation on medical associates

The government received more than 3,000 responses to its consultation on the regulation of medical associate professionals. A report is available summarising the views expressed and the response of the four UK health departments. The government has considered the responses and intends to introduce statutory regulation for physician associates and physicians’ assistants (anaesthesia). The consultation outcome report can be found here: The regulation of medical associate professionals in the UK: consultation response

General Dental Council

Universal principles for good complaint-handling

The General Dental Council (GDC) – with 28 other organisations across the dental sector – has developed a set of universal principles for good complaint-handling. The principles are:

  1. All of your feedback is important to us.
  2. We want to make it easy for you to raise a concern, or complain, if you need to.
  3. We follow a complaints procedure and keep you informed.
  4. We will try to answer all your questions and any concerns you raise.
  5. We want you to have a positive experience of making a complaint.
  6. Your feedback helps us to improve our service.

You can find out more about the principles and other organisations involved from the GDC’s website.

Consultation on the principles of specialist listing

The GDC is inviting comment on issues related to the system of specialist listing, including:

  • revised purposes for specialist listing
  • principles for the addition and removal of specialist lists
  • processes for maintaining accreditation on specialist lists.

The consultation closes on 25 April 2019. You can find out more in the consultations section of the GDC’s website.

Revised Standards for speciality education launched

The GDC has revised its Standards for speciality education following a consultation on proposed changes. The Standards outline what is expected of programme and examination providers delivering programmes and examinations leading to the issue of a Certificate of Completion of Specialist Training and inclusion upon one of the GDC’s specialists lists. You can find out about the changes from the GDC’s website.

General Optical Council

Consultation on new draft standards for education providers and learning outcomes for students

The General Optical Council (GOC) is consulting on new draft standards for education providers and learning outcomes for students as part of its Education Strategic Review. The draft learning outcomes and standards have taken account of feedback received from a previous consultation.

The consultation closes on 25 February 2019. Visit the GOC’s Consultation Hub to find out more about the consultation and how to respond.

New fitness to practise acceptance criteria

The GOC has published its new fitness to practise acceptance criteria – these are a case management tool for the GOC’s Fitness to Practise Team to help them decide whether to accept a complaint as an allegation of impaired fitness to practise. If a complaint does not meet the Acceptance Criteria, the GOC will not open an investigation into whether the registrant’s fitness to practise is impaired. The criteria apply to all complaints relating to individual registrants. The GOC plans to regularly review the criteria to ensure they are up-to-date. Find out more about the new Acceptance Criteria from the GOC’s website.

General Osteopathic Council

Annual fitness to practise report published

The General Osteopathic Council (GOsC) has published its annual fitness to practise report for 2017/18. The report includes:

  • the stages of the fitness to practise process
  • details of the investigations and hearings carried out in 2017/18
  • decisions about the hearings held during the year.

You can find out more or read the full report on the GOsC’s website.

General Pharmaceutical Council

Consultation on initial education and training of pharmacists

The General Pharmaceutical Council  (GPhC) has launched a consultation in which it is proposing significant changes to the initial education and training of pharmacists.

The proposals in the consultation include:

  • having one set of standards and learning outcomes that cover the full period of education and training before initial registration as a pharmacist, with closer integration between academic study and practical experience
  • strengthening experiential learning and inter-professional learning
  • revising the learning outcomes so that they are more focused on developing clinical skills and communication skills, while still retaining the critical importance of science
  • setting an expectation that schools of pharmacy, employers and commissioners will work together to develop proposals for integrating the 52 weeks of learning in practice within accredited programmes
  • requiring a more rigorous and structured approach to learning in practice (currently known as pre-registration training) with more regular and documented progress meetings
  • strengthening requirements in relation to selection and admission, including a requirement for course providers to assess the values of prospective students in addition to their academic qualifications through interactive activities such as multiple mini interviews or group work
  • strengthening requirements in relation to equality, diversity and inclusion, including by requiring course providers to conduct an annual review of student performance and admissions by the protected characteristics as defined by the Equality Act 2010.

You can find out more about the consultation and how to respond from the GPhC’s website. The deadline is 3 April 2019

Joint memorandum of understanding with JCCP

The GPhC and the Joint Council for Cosmetic Practitioners (JCCP) have agreed to a working relationship which will be characterised by regular contact and open exchange of information to:

  • maintain patient safety and confidence in pharmacy services and pharmacy professionals
  • support the sharing of information, intelligence, expertise and experience
  • contribute to improving the regulatory oversight of pharmacy activities
  • define the circumstances in which the two organisations will act independently.

The JCCP is one of the Authority’s accredited registers and was established to assist members of the public who are seeking/considering or undergoing non-surgical and hair restoration treatments (Injections, Fillers, Lasers, Peels and Hair Restoration) with advice on patient safety matters and how to gain access to registers of approved practitioners.

Find out more about the joint memorandum from the GPhC’s website. You can find out more about the accredited registers’ programme from our website.

Registered pharmacies

In December, the GPhC’s Council agreed a set of principles that will underpin how the GPhC will regulate registered pharmacies in future. The principles are:

  1. To be flexible, agile and responsive to the information we hold, intelligence we receive and issues we identify within pharmacy.
  2. Inspections should reflect as closely as possible how patients and the public experience pharmacy services day to day.
  3. The overall outcome of an inspection is clear and understandable to members of the public and enables pharmacy owners to be held to account against the standards.
  4. All standards for registered pharmacies need to be met every day.
  5. That the outcome of an inspection is open, transparent and accessible to members of the public (including where improvement action or regulatory enforcement action is required as a result).
  6. That insights from inspection activities are accessible to everyone in the pharmacy sector.

The changes follow a major consultation and will include publishing reports from pharmacy inspections for the first time and a move to unannounced inspections. The GPhC plans to begin to publish inspection reports from the first quarter of 2019-20 and will also implement the other changes in 2019-20. You can find out more from the GPhC’s website.

Health and Care Professions Council

Annual Fitness to Practise report

The Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) has published its annual fitness to practise report highlighting key statistics around fitness to pratise, including a slight increase in the number of concerns reported from the previous year. The largest number of concerns (42 per cent) were submitted by members of the public, followed by registrants’ employers (26 per cent). The third largest group (18 per cent) was registrants themselves, who are obliged to report to the HCPC any circumstances that affect their fitness to practise. You can find more highlights or download the full report from the HCPC’s website.

New Threshold Policy for Fitness to Practise Investigations and Approach to the Investigation of Health Matters

The HCPC has published two new policies: the Threshold Policy sets out a new approach to investigating fitness to practise concerns, and to decision-making in the early stages of our investigation process. This new policy replaces the HCPC’s previous Standard of Acceptance policy. The HCPC’s Approach to the Investigation of Health Matters explains how it will investigate concerns that a registrant’s fitness to practise may be impaired because of their physical or mental health. It also sets out the factors the HCPC will take into account when assessing health matters and the types of information needed. 

Both the policies are effective immediately, and will apply to existing fitness to practise cases as well as new concerns received from the 14 January 2019, but will not apply retrospectively to any cases that have already been considered against the previous Standard of Acceptance policy.

Find out more about both policies from the HCPC’s website.

Nursing and Midwifery Council

Plan to consult on of midwifery education in the UK

The Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) has outlined draft midwifery education standards ahead of its plan to hold a public consultation. The proposals place a greater emphasis on mental health and on public health and aim to equip midwives with the skills to identify individual health and mental health needs early on in the pregnancy, where necessary working in collaboration with multidisciplinary and multi-agency teams. The NMC asked its Council to approve the draft standards for public consultation at its meeting on 28 November. You can find out more in the Council papers on the NMC’s website.

New public support service in response to lessons learned review

Following the Authority’s Lessons Learned Review into failings at Morecambe bay (published in May 2018), the NMC has launched a new public support service offering dedicated, personal support to members of the public who raise concerns about nurses and midwives. Anyone who complains or raises a concern about a nurse/midwife will now receive one-to-one support with a dedicated, named contact who will be available to guide them through the process. The NMC has also established an independent group of patients and families to challenge their thinking, as well as a network of 60 NMC employees to help improve the way the NMC communicates as an organisation.

You can find out more about the public support service from the NMC’s website or read our Lessons Learned Review.