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PSA publishes report on perspectives on discriminatory behaviours in health and care

‘It’s your health and wellbeing that’s in their hands. The tax man, you don’t ever see him. The doctor is quite personal, you need to feel comfortable sharing your issues.”

This quote from research we have published today illustrates why, when a patient is subject to unfair treatment, it has the potential to affect trust and confidence in the healthcare professional, something which in turn can have an impact on patient safety.

We commissioned Perspectives on discriminatory behaviours in health and care to help form part of a wider evidence base and take forward work following the publication of our Safer care for all report last year. In the chapter on Tackling inequalities, we remarked that, while regulators take discriminatory behaviour seriously, how they deal with such behaviour by their registrants can vary. The qualitative research, a mixture of group discussions and interviews, was undertaken by Research Works, on the PSA’s behalf.

Participants in the research discuss what they see as discriminatory behaviour in health and care and how this can have an impact on confidence in healthcare professionals and on patient safety. With this report, we hope to start a conversation to help the regulators and Accredited Registers we oversee take a more consistent approach in dealing with this type of behaviour.

As part of the research, participants set out the markers that they think indicate how serious the behaviour is. These markers can help inform what fitness to practise sanction is appropriate:

  1. Intent – was the behaviour deliberately discriminatory/unfair or through lack of awareness/training?
  2. Vulnerability and outcome for the patient – how vulnerable is the patient on the receiving end of the behaviour, how bad was the outcome for the patient?
  3. Frequency – was this a one-off or is it repeated enough to form a pattern of behaviour?

We are publishing the report to coincide with our Chief Executive, Alan Clamp, speaking at a session on equality at the NHS ConfedExpo 2023 in Manchester today.


Professional Standards Authority for Health and Social Care



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. Research Works Ltd carry out research for public and voluntary sector client teams through using a mix of methods.
  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