Response to the call for evidence by the House of Lords Committee on the long-term sustainability of the NHS.
In 2010, we published Right-touch regulation (revised in 2015), which sets out our thinking on how regulatory policy should be developed. It stresses that regulation should be agile and risk-based, and that the minimum regulatory force should be used to address identified risks of harm. It argues that regulation should focus on quality control rather than quality improvement, but that it should help to create an environment in which professionalism can flourish. It aims to prevent the introduction of unnecessary regulatory interventions.
Growing demand is putting unprecedented strain on the health and care system, and provision of care struggles to keep pace with technological improvements. The role of regulation is to provide assurance that care remains safe for patients and service users. Professional regulation specifically ensures that professionals are appropriately qualified and maintain their knowledge and skills over the course of their career and that appropriate action is taken if concerns are raised about their fitness to practise.
A criticism that is often levelled at regulation is that it stifles change, improvement and innovation – while do we do not believe this criticism is always justified, the current frameworks in place in the UK may in some circumstances have that effect. We have put our minds to the question of how to reform professional regulation in health and care so that it meets current and future needs.
The comments in our submission draw heavily on one existing paper – Rethinking regulation – and one that was later published – Regulation rethought.