Regulatory Press Round-Up: January 2013

4 February 2013

General Medical Council (GMC)

Following the GMC’s decision to introduce revalidation, Professor Sir Peter Rubin became the first UK doctor to revalidate on 18 December 2012.  Excerpts from the interview with Professor Sir Peter Rubin can be read here.

Revalidation is a process by which all doctors in the UK are required to demonstrate their fitness to practise.  The UK is the first country in the world to introduce the concept of revalidating fitness to practise. All those registered with the GMC will be expected to illustrate their fitness to practise approximately every five years in order to retain registration.

General Dental Council (GDC)

The 31 January 2013 was the closing date for the GDC public consultation on the mandatory Continual Professional Development (CPD) provisions for dentists in the UK. Following a public survey, 95% of the responses said that it was ‘very important’ for dentists to demonstrate their skills and knowledge are up to date. It is hoped this proposal will provide assurance of the fitness to practise of dental practitioners.

Currently dentists must complete mandatory CPD under their Standards for Dental Professionals however there is no legal requirement for them to engage with the GDC in relation to their CPD. The new proposals will be aimed at connecting CPD to the GDC standards and therefore ensuring standards of practice and expectations of patients are fully met. The new emphasis will not only demand a minimum number of hours of CPD but will also evaluate the quality of CPD undertaken and its effect on the care provided. A further proposal to safeguard the quality of the CPD undertaken is the requirement that any new CPD schemes must be independently verified to be admissible.

Solicitor’s Regulation Authority (SRA)

The SRA are currently undertaking a consultation: ‘Red Tape Initiative: Removing unnecessary regulations and simplifying processes’.  This outlines proposed amendments to the regulations and processes that are currently in place for solicitors in the UK; its focus is to remove regulations which do not appear to benefit the public.

In October 2011 the SRA introduced ‘outcomes-focused regulation’ (OFR), which removed many of the time consuming processes in place, shifting the focus on to the public interest. For example, they have now provided that Authorised Signatories (AUS) and Organisational Contacts (ORC) can manage SRA applications for all those individuals in the firm, saving a vast amount of time and effort. 

It is hoped these measures will be simplified by ten initial proposals set out in the consultation, which include removing restrictions on charging by in-house lawyers in not-for-profit organisations and introducing a lifetime authorisation for training establishments.

This consultation will remain open until 19th April 2013.

Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC)

As at 3 January 2013, 80,049 social workers in England have successfully renewed their HCPC registration.  This figure represents 90.5% of the profession.

The 8,425 individuals who failed to renew their registration have now been removed from the Register, meaning they are no longer entitled to practise as social workers in England.

There is still a process for readmission to the Register, however this ends on 1 February 2013.

Given that under Article 13B(1) of the Health and Social Work Professions Order 2001, a person may not practise as a social worker in England unless they are registered with the HCPC and that the title ‘social worker’ is protected by law, the HCPC have written to employers, where known, to advise them of social workers who are no longer HCPC-registered.

Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC)

Following consultation between August and October 2011 and after its approval by Council in September 2012, on 14 January 2013, the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) will introduce voluntary removal as a means by which registrants may remove their names from the NMC register.  If a nurse or midwife admits that their fitness to practice is impaired, and they do not intend to continue practising, they can apply to be removed from the register without the need for a full public hearing.

The rationale behind the move is to free up resources and expedite the process where matters are not in dispute.   However, it is only to be used where there is no public interest in the holding of a full hearing, it being envisaged that the most likely suitable cases are those where there is long-term health conditions affecting fitness to practice or a registrant is near to retirement in any event.  

Jackie Smith, NMC Chief Executive and Registrar said:

“Voluntary removal ensures that we can take swift action to safeguard patients and the public and will allow fitness to practise cases to progress more efficiently and cost-effectively.

“It supports our core purpose of protecting the public, and cannot be used as an ‘easy way out’ for nurses and midwives who wish to avoid a full public hearing. In deciding whether voluntary removal should be approved, we will consider the public interest, the interests of the nurse or midwife and the views of the person who made the allegation about the nurse or midwife and brought them to the NMC’s attention.”

Nikki Hussey

*All information correct at time of press and can be accessed on each of the individual regulator’s websites

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