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The Authority welcomes reform of professional regulation but calls for greater accountability to match increased flexibility

The Professional Standards Authority has today welcomed the publication of the government’s response to the consultation on reform of professional regulation. However, the Authority has cautioned that the proposed additional flexibility for regulators must be balanced by enhanced oversight powers for the Authority to ensure that patients are protected, and the public can continue to have confidence in regulation.

The proposals are a positive step forward, if not as radical as we think is actually needed. They provide a major opportunity to modernise fitness to practise and other regulatory functions.

The response expresses support for many of the changes the Authority has previously called for:

  • A less adversarial fitness to practise system with greater focus on consensual disposal and remediation
  • Greater cooperation between regulators to tackle harm
  • A consistent risk-based approach for deciding on the most appropriate form of assurance for health and care occupations.

We are particularly pleased to note the support for the Authority’s role in ensuring that regulators’ fitness to practise decisions are sufficient to protect the public and commitment to ensure that the Authority’s role in relation to consensual decisions is reviewed. In our view it is essential for public protection for the Authority to be able to appeal final decisions whether made consensually or by a Panel.       

We note the proposals for increased flexibility for regulators to make and amend their own rules. Whilst we recognise that the current system can be unwieldy and bureaucratic we are disappointed that Government has not proposed a role for the Authority in overseeing rule-changes. This would help to ensure a consistent approach by regulators which would make the system clearer for patients, registrants and employers and ensure overall regulatory coherence. 

We look forward to working with Government on next steps and ensuring that public protection remains the focus of reform. We hope that this opportunity for reform is given the legislative priority it requires for implementation. 

Professional Standards Authority for Health and Social Care

 Contact: 

Christine Braithwaite, Director Standards and Policy
Reception: 020 7389 8030
E: Christine.Braithwaite@professionalstandards.org.uk

Professional Standards Authority for Health and Social Care

Notes to the Editor

  1. The Professional Standards Authority for Health and Social Care oversees nine statutory bodies that regulate health and social care professionals in the UK.
  2. We assess their performance and report to Parliament. We also conduct audits and investigations and can appeal fitness to practise cases to the courts if we consider that sanctions are insufficient to protect the public and it is in the public interest.
  3. We also set standards for organisations holding voluntary registers for health and social care occupations and accredit those that meet them.
  4. We share good practice and knowledge, conduct research and introduce new ideas to our sector. We monitor policy developments in the UK and internationally and provide advice on issues relating to professional standards in health and social care.
  5. We do this to promote the health, safety and wellbeing of users of health and social care services and the public. We are an independent body, accountable to the UK Parliament.
  6. Our values are at the heart of who we are and what we do. We are committed to being impartial, fair, accessible and consistent in the application of our values.
  7. More information about our work and the approach we take is available at www.professionalstandards.org.uk