December 2008 advice to the Secretary of State proposes a standard definition and approach to good character across the regulatory bodies, based on common criteria.
As a result of wide variation in approaches to the assessment of good character at the point of entry to the register, there are desires for these to be harmonised as part of promoting consistency across the health professions regulators. In July 2006, the Department of Health published The regulation of the non-medical healthcare professions, a review led by Andrew Foster that examined the effectiveness of professional regulation with the focus on ensuring proper protection of the public. The Foster Review recommended that ‘All regulators should adopt a single definition of “good character”, one of the legal requirements for getting registration. This should be based on objective tests’. This recommendation received positive support in responses to the consultation on the Foster Review.
The Department of Health’s subsequent White Paper, Trust, Assurance and Safety – The Regulation of Healthcare Professionals in the 21st Century, acknowledged the need for ‘further effort to identify a common approach to “good character”’ and asked the Professional Standards Authority (then CHRE) to ‘recommend a single standard definition of good character, working with the regulatory bodies and encompassing wider work within Europe to promote information sharing on the good character of professionals who cross national borders.’
This report proposes a standard definition and approach to good character across the regulatory bodies, based on common criteria. The purpose of ‘good character’ assessments is to establish whether someone would practise safely and effectively if registered. Our common approach emphasises public protection, public confidence, acting in accordance with professional standards, and honesty and trustworthiness.