In June 2020, we announced the launch of our strategic review of the Accredited Registers programme. Following wide-ranging stakeholder engagement and a public consultation, we have concluded our review. Our new approach will deliver financial sustainability, give greater clarity on the scope of the programme, and introduce a more proportionate assessment approach. We will implement these changes in July this year.
There were several important findings from the review, including a need for the programme to be more deeply embedded within the wider healthcare system. It was also recognised that it needs to achieve increased recognition so that it can be of greater use to stakeholders.
We think that to fully achieve this, the programme must be incorporated within changes to the wider legislative framework, as proposed by the UK Government’s public consultation on the future of professional regulation. Patients, the public, employers and other stakeholders need a simpler and more coherent system, based on risk. We believe that the changes we are making this year will provide a robust platform for the future development of the programme and we will continue to work with the Government and others to identify opportunities arising from the wider changes to the system.
In the meantime, the key changes we will be making this year are:
Public interest test
Our public consultation showed that for patients, service users, employers and other stakeholders to have confidence in using the programme, our accreditation decisions need to take greater account of the risks and benefits of the activities of registrants. We will achieve this by introducing a ‘public interest test’ into our Standards for Accredited Registers. Along with our other Standards, this will inform our overall decision on whether accreditation can be granted or renewed.
More proportionate assessment cycle
We will move from an annual review to a three-year assessment cycle, with more frequent checks if we have concerns. This will allow us to target our assessments in a more proportionate way. We are also introducing clearer minimum requirements which we hope will support new registers to assess their readiness for accreditation and will underpin assessment outcomes.
Revised fees structure
It was necessary for us to be fully financially independent this year. Our new fees model, which takes greater account of the varying sizes of the organisations we accredit, will help us to achieve this goal.
We will also continue to work with the NHS and others to make sure that accreditation is a key consideration in workforce development. We are pleased to have received several new applications so far this year and hope that our revised approach will help to ensure the continued expansion of the programme so that more patients and service users can benefit from the higher levels of assurance that our accreditation provides.
What does the future hold?
Our review also identified furtherways to enhance the programme for the future. These included developing consistent standards of proficiency for roles not subject to statutory regulation, and potential additional controls, such as licensing for higher risk professions.
Since then, the UK Government has published its public consultation about the future of professional regulation. We were pleased to see that the programme is considered within the context of the wider legislative framework and we will consider opportunities for further development of the programme once the outcomes of the consultation have been established.
Professional Standards Authority for Health and Social Care
Contact: Christine Braithwaite, Director of Standards and Policy
Notes to the Editor
- The Professional Standards Authority for Health and Social Care oversees 10 statutory bodies that regulate health and social care professionals in the UK (General Chiropractic Council, General Dental Council, General Medical Council, General Optical Council, General Osteopathic Council, General Pharmaceutical Council, Health and Care Professions Council, Nursing and Midwifery Council, Pharmaceutical Society of Northern Ireland and Social Work England).
- 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.
- We also set standards for organisations holding voluntary registers for health and social care occupations and accredit those that meet them.
- 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.
- 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.
- Our values are – integrity, transparency, respect, fairness and teamwork – and we strive to ensure that they are at the core of our work.
- More information about our work and the approach we take is available at www.professionalstandards.org.uk