Press Round-Up: Regulatory and Professional Discipline – August 2014

11 August 2014

Heath and Care Professions Council (HCPC)

On 01 August 2014, the HCPC published revised standards of education and training to reflect the new requirement that service uses and carers are involved in programmes approved by the regulator. It is hoped this involvement will help ensure that programmes are up to date with the expectations and experience of service users and carers and will ensure students gain wide ranging experience.

In line with new legislation, as of 18 July 2014, all HCPC registrants, except social workers in England, are required to have appropriate professional indemnity arrangements in place as a condition of registration. The HCPC anticipates that the majority of registrants will already have appropriate indemnity cover, either through their employer, union or defence organisation, and have produced a guide on professional indemnity to ensure registrants understand the new requirements. Once the necessary amendments have been made to the HCPC Rules, the HCPC will require registrants to confirm they have appropriate indemnity cover when registering or renewing.

On 14 July 2014, the HCPC launched a consultation on the standards of proficiency for practitioner psychologists. The views of the British Psychological Society have already been sought and the consultation has now been opened to wider stakeholders. The HCPC specifically welcomes comments on the use of the terms ‘evidence informed’ and ‘service user’. The consultation will run until 17 October 2014.

General Medical Council (GMC)

On 09 July 2014, the GMC launched a new online resource to support doctors in their day-to-day care of older patients. The new resource is centred on a number of interviews with older patients who outline the difficulties they have faced when accessing healthcare and their experiences with doctors. These interviews are supported by guidance, case studies, scenarios, articles and tips for doctors caring for older people. Niall Dickson, Chief Executive of the GMC, expressed his hope that this new resource would, ‘stimulate discussion and help to support doctors working with older people’.

The GMC has appointed a new Chief Operating Officer and Deputy Chief Executive, Susan Goldsmith. Ms Goldsmith will join the GMC from 06 October 2014 and she brings extensive experience in managing complex, safety critical, customer facing organisations, for example Ms Goldsmith spent more than three years as Terminal/Operations Director at BAA.

The GMC has also appointed Dr Vicky Osgood as Director of Education and Standards. Dr Osgood has been elevated from her previous role at the GMC as Assistant Director of Postgraduate Education, a post she held for three years.

General Dental Council (GDC)

The PSA is investigating claims raised by a whistle-blower about working practices at the GDC’s Investigating Committee (IC) which it was alleged were likely to compromise the independence of the IC’s decisions.

In respect of the above whistleblowing allegations, the GDC commissioned Geoff Hudson, solicitor and partner at Penningtons Manches LLP, to conduct an independent investigation in to the allegations, ‘the Hudson Report’. The GDC has now published a summary of Mr Hudson’s findings. Overall, the Hudson Report found that staff intervention did not result in any cases in which the IC’s decision was changed but does make a number of recommendations aimed at strengthening the IC process. Changes to the IC Guidance will be considered at the next Council meeting.

On 30 June 2014, the GDC launched a consultation on the level of the Annual Retention Fee (ARF) for registrants. The GDC has already consulted on the policy to be used when setting the ARF and the responses to this were considered when establishing the proposed new fee of £945 (dentists) £128 (DCPs). The consultation is open until 04 September 2014.

Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC)

The NMC has signed up to Public Concern at Work’s (PCaW) First 100 Campaign. This campaign is designed to support whistle-blowers and the NMC’s Director of Strategy, Jon Billings, suggests, following the NMC’s signing up to be part of the First 100, that NMC staff and the public can, ‘be assured that the NMC is committed to handling concerns and whistle-blowers in accordance with PCaW’s code of practice’.

As with the HCPC, all NMC registrants are now required to have appropriate professional indemnity arrangements in place as a condition of registration. The NMC will ask nurses to confirm appropriate indemnity arrangements are in place when they join or review their registration and the NMC Code has been updated to reflect the fact that indemnity  cover is now mandatory.

On 31 July 2014, the NMC responded to UNISON, UNITE and the RCN’s responses to the fee consultation. These responses will be considered fully at a Council meeting on 01 October 2014, at which a decision will be made whether to increase the registration fee. The NMC rejected comments made by UNISON suggesting the number of fitness to practise hearing be reduced to ensure the annual retention fee (ARF) does not increase, saying, ‘We have been able to reduce our caseload and length of time it takes us to deal with complaints by increasing the number of hearings we hold. Any reduction in the number of hearings we hold will lead to cases taking longer to conclude. This would not be in the best interests of the public or nurses and midwives’.

Solicitors Regulatory Authority (SRA)

The SRA have launched a call for evidence with regard to client protection issues and are particularly interested in evidence that supports:

  1.  the ways in which regulation can reduce the risk of claims arising;
  2.  the extent to which risk is shared between consumers and legal businesses;
  3. the impact of the PII Minimum Terms and Conditions;
  4. how far insurance cover should be more closely aligned to the nature of the legal services provided;
  5.  the degree to which client protection arrangements are understood by consumers and are a driver of consumer behaviour.

Contributions can be submitted until 30 September 2014.

The SRA have warned students who have completed their law degrees of a scam email, falsely stating that a Government body, named True Personal Injury Solicitors, will partially fund their LPC. The fraudulent emails are being sent using the email address and are signed Matthew Mccormack. The SRA does not authorise or regulate either, True Personal Injury Solicitors or Matthew Mccormack.

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