Regulatory Press Release Round-Up

2 December 2011

General Medical Council (GMC)

The GMC has published its annual survey of junior doctors (http://www.gmc-uk.org/NTS_trainee_survey_2011.pdf_45270429.pdf) which illustrates the experiences and perceptions of over 46,000 doctors in training, working across the UK. The results of the survey show that whilst most training and supervision of junior doctors is good, 25% of newly qualified doctors did not feel ready to take the next step in their career while 22% of trainees reported that they were forced to cope with challenges they were not adequately prepared for. Further concerns included insufficient feedback and working over the 48 hours a week limit.

The GMC intends to consult on proposals for the approval and recognition of trainers to strengthen existing practices for the support and supervision of trainees and junior doctors. While working with senior doctors, managers and medical educators, the GMC will seek to make the necessary improvements.

General Osteopathic Council

After a consultation earlier this year, the Professional Conduct Committee (PCC) decided that there would be no change to the way witnesses give evidence at Fitness to Practise hearings. Witnesses of fact currently read out their statements, copies of which have been provided to the panel and parties. The PCC based its decision on the overwhelming opposition to the proposed changes and considered it inappropriate to implement a change that was unsupported by osteopaths, those who represent the parties and the Fitness to Practise Policy Committee.

In other news, the General Osteopathic Council has recently announced that Alison White, a Chartered Director and Chartered Management Accountant, will be appointed as the new Chair of Council as of 1 April 2012. Senior posts previously held by Alison White include Chief Executive of the National Pharmacy Association and Interim Chief Executive of the General Dental Council.

Alison White has stated that she is “very much looking forward to working with the profession… to continue to raise standards of osteopathic practice for the benefit of patients.”

The current Chair, Professor Adrian Eddleston, has expressed that he is “confident she will successfully lead the Council through the next phase of its development.

General Chiropractic Council (GCC)

Major General David Howell CB, OBE joined the GCC on 14 November 2011 as Chief Executive and Registrar. Previous posts held by Major General Howell include Director of Regulatory Services at the General Optical Council and Director General for Army Legal Services. A barrister by background, Major General Howell’s experience ranges from conducting serious criminal cases to administrative and international law. He has stated that he is “delighted to be joining the GCC at such an exciting time…my priorities are that the GCC is robust in its planning, while strongly representing the interests of the patients and the public.

The Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC)

In July 2011, the Council for Healthcare Regulatory Excellence (CHRE) audited 100 (out of a possible 1,532) cases closed by the NMC in 2011, assessing the initial stages of its fitness to practise process. The Chief Executive and Registrar of the NMC, Professor Dickon Weir-Hughes, has recently responded to CHRE’s findings and made the following remarks:

“The NMC is pleased CHRE has acknowledged improvements made in prioritising serious cases. The NMC is now working to address issues identified in the audit report and the hard work and commitment of the fitness to practise team has secured a turnaround. The Department of Health is working with the NMC to change the legal framework to help develop a modern, responsive and efficient service in making a real difference to public protection.” [sic]

Health Care Professions Council (HCPC)

The HCPC has launched a consultation (running from 1 November 2011 – 2 March 2012) on the most effective way of assuring student fitness to practise. Given the abolition of the General Social Care Council, which currently registers student social workers, the HCPC will have discretionary powers to establish voluntary registers of students subject to parliamentary approval. It is seeking the view of its stakeholders on the most effective way of assuring the fitness to practise of students from the other 15 professions it regulates across the UK. The main options under consideration are:

  • maintaining the HCPC’s current approach to student registration;
  • maintaining a voluntary register of social work students in England;
  • establishing a voluntary register of students for some or all of the existing HCPC regulated professions.

General Optical Council (GOC)

The General Optical Council has announced that Mandie Lavin has been appointed as its interim director of regulation. A qualified barrister, Mandie Lavin brings with her a wealth of experience of working in regulation. As former director of the Bar Standards Board and director of fitness to practise and legal affairs at the Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain, “Mandie has the knowledge and expertise to ensure that we continue to deliver high standards of public protection” (Samantha Peters, GOC chief executive and registrar).

Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA)

In its response to the Legal Services Board’s consultation on the scope of reserved activities, the SRA has said that all legal services should be regulated to provide better protection for consumers. The SRA is seeking a fundamental review of the basis of regulation of legal services in England and Wales. In its view, the current problems include: 

  • a lack of clarity for consumers about which legal services are regulated and which are not;
  • a lack of consistent consumer protection and redress;
  • a lack of focus on quality, standards and ethical behaviour across all legal services;
  • increased regulatory cost in the system, ultimately borne by the consumer due to a multiplicity of regulators.

The SRA sets out the need for regulation in the wider public interest and to promote and protect the interests of consumers.

Ami Patel, Legal Assistant

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