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Rethinking regulation

06 Aug 2015 | Professional Standards Authority
  • Thought Leadership

In this paper, the Authority argues that regulation needs a radical overhaul if it is to support rather than stand in the way of the serious changes being proposed for our health and care services.


The arrangements for the delivery of health and social care are changing and developing rapidly, but the regulatory arrangements do not have the agility to move with them.

Today, we have more than 20 different regulatory agencies overseeing health and care. Each new organisation, and each new regulatory intervention, has been created in response to specific stimuli without the benefit of an overarching design, a controlling intelligence, or a coherent set of principles. Regulation, which under the current system is an instrument of law, is dependent on detailed primary legislation and therefore parliamentary timetables and legislative resources. It is slow and generally behind the trend, neither keeping pace with current changes nor anticipating future needs. It has led to a vastly complicated and incoherent regulatory system where the costs and benefits are unquantified and unclear.


The report explains why regulation isn't fit for purpose now and needs to be reformed so that it better supports professionals providing health and care. It argues that regulation of professionals cannot be changed in isolation but must take account of the places in which they work. It calls for deregulation, less regulation and better regulation. Rethinking regulation makes a series of recommendations intended to reshape how regulation works so that it is able to face the challenges of the future. These include:

  • Shared objectives for system and professional regulators
  • Transparent benchmarking to set standards
  • A rebuilding of trust between professionals, the public and regulators
  • A reduced scope of regulation so it focuses on what works
  • A proper risk assessment model
  • To place real responsibility where it lies with the people who manage and deliver care.