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

14 November 2014

Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC)

  • The HCPC is seeking the views of stakeholders on draft guidance for disabled people on becoming a health and care professional regulated by the HCPC. The guidance was produced following a review of existing guidance published in 2006. A team from Coventry University undertook research with disabled people and staff involved in education and training to help the HCPC update and improve the guidance. The deadline for responses to the consultation is 16 January 2015.

General Medical Council (GMC)

  • The GMC and NMC have launched a public consultation on draft joint guidance which is designed to support doctors, nurses and midwives in fulfilling their professional duty to be open and honest about mistakes.  The proposals cover the need to learn from “near misses” as well as when something goes wrong and a patient is harmed. There is also advice on apologising to patients and those close to them. The consultation is open until 5 January 2015. The GMC and NMC aim to publish their new joint guidance in March 2015.
  • The Hooper Review, which the GMC has commissioned to consider how it deals with doctors who raise concerns in the public interest, is well underway. Anyone else who would like to contribute relevant information to the review should contact Sir Anthony Hooper using the following confidential email address: by 21 November 2014. Sir Anthony Hooper is aiming to report to the GMC with his recommendations before the end of 2014.
  • The GMC has launched a consultation on changes to its regulations which will give it new powers to check that doctors have appropriate indemnity or insurance cover in place in their practice. The changes aim to build on the duty that already exists which says that doctors must have adequate insurance or indemnity cover so that patients will not be disadvantaged if they need to make a claim relating to their clinical care. The consultation will be open until 10 December 2014.
  • The GMC has published a joint statement with eight other regulators which sets out a professional duty of candour. The statement clarifies what the regulator expects from health professionals wherever they work across the public, private and voluntary sectors.

General Dental Council (GDC)

  • The new Dentist Register Rules and Dental Care Professionals Regulations came into force on 1 November 2014. These rules required changes to the made to the GDC online register. As a result, temporary registrants and visiting practitioners from EEA countries are now displayed on the GDC online register. Temporary registrants are dentists who hold a recognised overseas diploma and who are registered for a limited period for the purpose of training, teaching or research in approved posts. Visiting EEA dental practitioners or DCPs are individuals who register with the GDC under UK and EU legislation, which allows a national of an EEA state to provide services on a temporary and occasional basis.
  • The Council of the GDC agreed to increase its Annual Retention Fee (ARF) for dentists to £890 and decrease the fee for dental care professionals to £116 on 30 October 2014.This is the first increase in the ARF for dentists in four years. The fees for 2015 are based on the ARF policy agreed by the Council in June 2014.  The fee is linked directly to the cost of regulating each registrant group. The Council’s decision followed analysis of more than 4,000 responses to a consultation which ran for a nine week period until 4 September 2014.

Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC)

  • The first six partner organisations for testing the processes and systems associated with revalidation were announced by the NMC on 15 October 2014. Under revalidation, nurses and midwives will be required to confirm that they are competent, up-to-date and fit to practise every three years. The aim of the pilot is to help identify the ways in which the NMC can refine the model before it is introduced at the end of 2015. The organisations selected are:
  •  Aneurin Bevan University Health Board
  • Guys and St. Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust
  • Mersey Care NHS Trust
  • NHS Tayside, and local partners                                                             Public Health England
  • Western Health and Social Care Trust
  • The NMC published its reports on maternity services and the wider environment of maternity care in Guernsey on 30 October 2014. The Review Team found that a number of standards relating to how midwives’ practice was being supervised had not been met. The NMC has been informed that the LSA and Guernsey’s Health and Social Services Department have put measures since the review visit in order to address some of the immediate concerns raised in the reports.
  • The NMC has responded to the publication of the Health and Social Care (Safety and Quality) Bill by stating that wider legislative changes are still required.
  • The NMC published a position statement on 21 October 2014 outlining how urgent legislative reform would enable it to better protect the public. The statement clearly lays out the key areas of change that the NMC urgently needs in order to become a more modern and effective regulator.

General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC)

  • On 29 October 2014, the GPhC published its strategic plan for 2015-2018. The document which has been laid before parliament, has an increased focus on the role the GPhC can play in helping pharmacy professionals and the pharmacy sector to improve quality, of which safety is a key element.
  • The GPhC set out key learning points from its inspections model during a conference aimed at providing pharmacy stakeholders in England, Scotland and Wales with a platform for feedback and discussion on the prototype. The GPhC have stated that the inspection model has allowed for a significant shift to take place to an approach that is more focused on delivering outcomes for patients.

Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA)

  •  On 5 November 2014 the SRA published an update to the Risk Outlook 2015. The Outlook provides firms and consumers with a clear view of the SRA’s assessment of significant trends in the legal services market. It profiles key risks and explains what is meant by each of them, why they are significant and the regulatory approaches to managing them.
  • The SRA have emailed a total of 1863 firms informing them that no evidence of insurance had been provided for them.  Firms must check that they have renewed their policy for 2014-2015 and provide the SRA with complete professional indemnity insurance information.
  • The updated SRA handbook is now live. The key changes include:
    • Measures to make it simpler for multi-disciplinary practices (MDPs) to be licensed to provide legal services under SRA regulation.
    • Changes to the requirements for accountants' reports on client accounts to make them more targeted. Firms are required to deliver accountants' reports to the SRA within six months of the end of their financial period if those reports are qualified. Firms that receive 100 per cent of the fees from Legal Aid work are exempt from needing to obtain a report
    • Ending the annual Keeping of the Roll exercise so that those solicitors who wish to remain on the roll will no longer need to apply every year.
    •  Simplification of the Overseas Accounts Rules to make it easier for firms with overseas practices to meet the SRA’s requirements

Bar Standards Board (BSB)

  •  On 31 October 2014 the BSB launched a new programme called “Future Bar Training”. Over the next 3 years, together with the legal community, the BSB intends to reshape legal education and training for future barristers. The BSB plan to develop a benchmark that describes the knowledge and skills that all newly-qualified barristers should possess on their first day in practice. Interactive workshops will be held for members of the Bar to share their skills knowledge and experience.  The workshops will take place between 13 November and 10 December 2014.
  • The BSB has agreed to remove the deadline of 31 December 2014 for barristers to register under the Quality Assurance Scheme for Advocates (QASA) while the board and other regulators consider how best to implement the scheme. The BSB reached the decision at its monthly board meeting on 23 October 2014. It agreed to consider a detailed implementation proposal when the board meets in January 2015, following which further announcements will be made.
  •  On 24 October 2014 the BSB published the findings of its pilot supervision visits to chambers. The supervision programme is part of the BSB's new targeted and proportionate approach to regulation launched at the beginning of the year. Among the actions raised from the visits, key themes were:
    •  Risk management (e.g., whether a chambers had prepared a plan for how it would manage and respond to risks and uncertainty);
    • Viability (e.g., whether a chambers had a contingency plan in the event of sudden closure);
    • Complaints (e.g., whether a chambers had clear complaints handling and monitoring procedures); and
    • Equality and diversity requirements (e.g. whether a chambers had devised an Equality Action Plan).
    • More supervision visits will now be rolled out as part of the BSB's wider, better targeted approach to supervision.

*all information correct at time of publication and can be found on the individual regulator’s websites.

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