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Does consistency between regulators matter? Research report published

We wanted to find the answer to this question – does consistency between regulators matter?

What do patients, carers, the public and registrants think about consistency in health and care professional regulation – is it valuable, and if so when and why? We also wanted to understand whether their views differ according to which area of the regulator’s responsibilities we are talking about for example, education and training, registration, and the fitness to practise process.

We commissioned Simon Christmas Ltd – an independent research organisation to conduct qualitative research on the subject of consistency and get public, patient and professionals’ perspectives on it. Online focus groups with patients, carers and members of the public were conducted as well as one-to-one interviews with registrants of different regulators. Using illustrative examples of current differences in the regulation of different health and care professionals, participants were asked to consider what should be the same, what should be different, and their reasons for similarity or difference. This approach to answering the research question aimed to address some of the challenges posed by exploring a nuanced and potentially value-laden concept (“consistency”) with participants with limited prior knowledge about professional practice or regulation. Rather than asking participants if they thought consistency was valuable or not, the researchers catalogued participants’ arguments about whether sameness or difference was appropriate with respect to various aspects of regulation.

The result is this report which ultimately finds that for patients, the public and registrants, advocating for consistency between regulators rarely means asserting that regulators should operate identically. It instead involves balancing the value of different kinds of sameness – reflecting assumptions about regulators’ roles – with arguments for justifiable difference.

Find out more about how the research was carried out or download the full report here.


Professional Standards Authority for Health and Social Care

Contact: media@professionalstandards.org.uk

Notes to the Editor

  1. The Professional Standards Authority for Health and Social Care oversees 10 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. This report contains 28 case studies from the 10 UK health and social care professions regulators - these are in the regulators' own words and have not been edited or formatted into Authority house-style. To make it easier to read, we have also created a separate section with just the case studies in it.
  7. Our values are – integrity, transparency, respect, fairness and teamwork – and we strive to ensure that they are at the core of our work.
  8. More information about our work and the approach we take is available at www.professionalstandards.org.uk