AvMA calls for patient protection to be at the core of healthcare professional regulation

Published: 26 Jan 2018

Responding to the Department of Health and Social Care’s consultation “Promoting professionalism, reforming regulation”, AvMA welcomes the aim of a more flexible legislative framework but warns that it is important that this does not lead to even greater inconsistency between regulators and a lowering of professional standards overall.

Whilst we consider that there are improvements that could be made to the current fragmented and inconsistent systems of professional regulation, we would be concerned if any professional group involved in the provision of a medical, clinical or other therapeutic service were not to be subject to a form of regulation. Statutory regulation provides the greatest protection to patients.

Any system of professional regulation should have patient protection at its core. This means creating a more pro-active model aimed at pre-empting problems before they become disciplinary issues or harm is caused. This includes the standards that are applied for entry to the register, to supporting professionals in keeping their practice up to date and in line with current best standards, as well as the early detection of professionals who are at risk of causing avoidable harm.

The responsibility for safe professional practice falls not just to the professional regulators, but is also the responsibility of their employing organisations in ensuring the work environment supports life-long learning and professional development, provides an environment which supports safe practice, particularly when health services are under pressure, and has a range of mechanisms in place to identify professionals who are in need of support or whose practice is potentially unsafe.

We were disappointed that the consultation made no reference to key elements of reform that patients, patients’ organisations and others have been calling for for years. These include scrapping the ‘five year rule’; introducing a right of appeal about decisions not to investigate concerns reported; availability of independent advice for members of the public in raising concerns to regulators; and clearer rules over consensual proposal.

See our full response to the consultation here