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Lapses in professional registration

14 Aug 2013 | Professional Standards Authority
  • Policy Advice

August 2013 - Policy paper looking at the issue of professionals lapsing from the register.

Lapses in professional regulation: Impact, issues, and ideas fr improvement

This paper considers the impact of health professionals and social workers lapsing from the professional register, and how the different regulators deal with this issue. It goes on to make suggestions about how regulators could improve their systems to help reduce the number of problematic lapses.

Why did we produce this report?

In 2009, the Nursing Times published an article about a mental health trust which had recently brought in a policy for checking the professional registration status of their nursing staff. The monthly checks of the register identified up to eight nurses a month who had failed to ensure they remained registered by paying the fee required to be retained on the register. The Nursing Times believed at the time that the failure of nurses to re-register was a problem throughout the NHS.

The Nursing and Midwifery Council reported in 20114 that 5 out of 288 GP practices in Kent were employing nurses not on the register and that most GPs were unaware of their responsibility for checking the registration status of nurses.

In our 2011-12 performance review we found a range of different approaches taken by regulators in dealing with lapsed registration, and we made a commitment to look more closely at this area of practice in 2012-135.

Health professionals and social workers are personally responsible for ensuring that they remain registered if they are practising. It is a responsibility fundamental to being a professional. For the most part, renewals and fee payments take place without a hitch. However, a minority lapse every year, some of whom run the risk of breaking the criminal law by practising while unregistered.

We are interested in this issue because the accuracy of a register is fundamental to public protection. Through our Standards of Good Regulation the regulators we oversee are required to ensure that only those who meet the regulator’s requirements are registered, and that people can find and check a health professional and social worker’s registration. A statutory register of professionals is more than just a list: it vouches for the standards of competence and suitability of the people on it.