Health professional regulation
The Government has signalled the intention to legislate to modernise health professional regulation carried out by bodies such as the General Medical Council (GMC), Nursing & Midwifery Council (NMC) etc. This is well overdue and is welcomed by AvMA and the regulators themselves.
However, to date this has only been discussed in terms of modernising the legislation and making the system more flexible for the regulators. We believe that more radical changes are needed that better take on board patient safety and introduces more transparency, accountability, and safeguards. Not to do this would be a massive missed opportunity, leave the system unfit for purpose, and would ignore what patients/ the public expect from regulation.
Based on the experience of our beneficiaries – people affected by avoidable harm – what we are calling for is:
- The right for people who raise concerns about a health professional but where an investigation is refused or no regulatory action is taken to (a) appeal to the registrar of the regulatory and have the decision reviewed, and (b) if the registrar’s decision is considered unreasonable, request the Professional Standards Authority to review and them to have the power to challenge the decision
- Abolition of the ‘Five Year Rule’ operated by the GMC, or any other time based rule making it more difficult for potentially unfit professionals to be investigated
- Independent, specialist advice to be available to anyone who is raising a serious concern about a health professional with a regulator or considering doing so
- Measures to prevent bullying of witnesses/people who raise concerns in fitness to practise hearings
- Safeguards to ensure that cases dealt with without a formal hearing are fully transparent and can not result in ‘plea bargaining’
- Implementation of Baroness Cumberlege’s recommendation in her review of medicines and devices for the GMC to maintain a register of doctors’ commercial interests