Regulatory Press Round-Up: February 2014

7 February 2014

Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC)

  • The former Director of Nursing at the Mid Staffordshire District General Hospitals NHS Trust, Janice Harry, has been struck off the nursing register after she reached an agreement with the NMC and the Professional Standards Authority. The NMC originally referred Janice Harry’s case to the PSA for review after an independent panel imposed a five year caution in November 2013 for exposing patients to danger during her time at Stafford Hospital.
  • Following a report by the Parliamentary and Health Services Ombudsman into existing provision for the supervision of midwives the NMC council has agreed to undertake an immediate review of midwifery regulation to improve public protection. The review will initially address the specific findings of the PHSO report before looking at the strengths and weaknesses of supervision and its place in the statutory framework. It will consider the effective and proportionate regulation of midwives and will involve organisations across the UK.
  • As the two years of additional funding provided by the government, who provided the NMC with a one off grant of £20 million in 2012, draws to a close the NMC will be reviewing the current fee structure at their March 2014 Council meeting.

General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC)

The GPhC is seeking views on draft guidance on preparing unlicensed medicines. The new draft guidance proposes the steps pharmacy owners and superintendent pharamacists should take to make sure that unlicensed medicines prepared in the pharmacy are of the appropriate level of quality and safety, in order to protect patients. The draft guidance has been designed to advise pharmacy owners and superintendent pharmacists how they can demonstrate that they are achieving the relevant standards and safeguarding patients and the public when unlicensed medicines are prepared. The draft guidance proposes a number of areas pharmacy owners and superintendent pharmacists will need to consider if their pharmacy will be preparing unlicensed medicines, including:

  • Risk assessment: A risk assessment would need to be undertaken to ensure safe outcomes for patients
  • Record keeping and accountability: Detailed records of the preparation of the medicine must be kept to safeguard patients
  • Staff training: All staff must have the appropriate training to undertake their duties in preparing unlicensed medicines
  • Patient information: Pharmacy staff must communicate with patients to make sure they have all of the information they require about the unlicensed medicine
  • Equipment and facilities: Pharmacies must have the appropriate equipment and facilities available to produce a high quality, safe product.

The guidance covers all unlicensed medicines that would be prepared in a pharmacy, including the extemporaneous preparation of methadone for supply in accordance with a prescription.

The guidance has been published in draft form to give everyone with an interest in the preparation of unlicensed medicines the opportunity to give comments. Feedback can be submitted to the GPhC until 14 March 2014 and will inform the final version of the guidance.

  • New guidance has been produced by the GPhC to help those who tutor pre-registration trainee pharmacists and pre-registration trainee pharmacy technicians to fulfil their roles and provide appropriate support and supervision to their trainees.

Security Industry Authority (SIA)

  • In January 2014 the SIA issued some statistics on its licensing operations, intelligence gathering, enforcement actions and Approved Contractor Scheme. The data makes interesting reading, specifically that:
    • since the first licence was issued in April 2004 the SIA has issued over 1,000,000 licences;
    • as a result of improved systems the SIA is able to process licensing applications well above its target;
    • since March 2013 there have been 17 successful SIA prosecutions against companies and individuals, 337 written warnings have been issued as have 59 improvement notices to security companies.
  • On 22 January 2014 the SIA led a multi-agency operation across central London to check on security licensing, visa offences and employee pay. The SIA were joined by officers from the Metropolitan Police and officials from HM Revenue and Customs, and Home Office Immigration and Enforcement.

Bar Standards Board (BSB)

  • The BSB made a statement on the decision of the High Court to refuse permission to appeal to the Court of Appeal the result of the judicial review of QASA. In its public statement the BSB states that, ‘We hope advocates will respect the Court's decision and understand that it is our duty to implement a quality assurance scheme. We hope we can now work together in implementing the Scheme so that it best meets the needs of those we are all striving to serve - the client and the public."
  • Following the High Court’s judgment of Monday 20 January on the judicial review of the decision of the Legal Services Board to approve the application to introduce QASA the BSB, the Solicitors Regulation Authority and ILEX Professional Standards, (together the Joint Advocacy Group) discussed the practical consequences of the outcome. The regulators agreed to revise the QASA registration timetable whilst ensuring that registration is completed within 2014.The regulators also announced that they would consider any relevant recommendations from the Jeffrey review as they continue to review and develop the Scheme. Those whom are directly affected by the decision on QASA should consult the BSB website for further information on the registration timetable.

Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA)

  • The Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) is consulting on only allowing rated insurers to provide professional indemnity (PII) cover to SRA-regulated law firms following problems caused by the insolvency of a number of insurers. To clarify the risks posed by changes in the market, the SRA commissioned insurance broker and risk specialist Marsh to determine whether unrated insurers in the market for PII insurance for SRA-regulated firms had a detrimental effect upon clients and law firms.
  • Paul Philip becomes the new Chief Executive of the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA). Mr. Philip joins the SRA from the General Medical Council. In addition to focussing on the organisation's priorities, such as continuing to develop the SRA as a risk-based regulator and addressing the issue of financial instability in firms he will also be overseeing the Authority's drive to reduce unnecessary bureaucracy through its Red Tape Initiative.
  • The in-house solicitors sector is expanding and becoming more diverse than ever, Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) research has shown. There are now 25,600 solicitors working in-house, twice the number in 2000 and representing 18 per cent of the solicitor population.

Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC)

  • The Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) announced the appointment of its new 12-member Council. This is in line with the government recommendation that all regulatory bodies should be overseen by smaller, more ‘board like’ Councils.

All information correct at the time of press and can be accessed on each of the individual regulators websites.

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