The E-Regulator: Press Round Up March 2012

31 March 2012

Please see below for a recent round-up of press releases from major regulatory bodies. 

General Dental Council (GDC)

The GDC has released the findings of its recent survey exploring what registrants, stakeholders and providers think about mandatory Continual Professional Development (CPD). The results reveal that over half of all GDC registrants prefer learning online, that dental technicians are the group of GDC registrants who find it the hardest to identify the right CPD for them; 27% of all registrants have never had an appraisal in their current workplace; and 65% of all registrants generally do their CPD outside working hours. This survey comes ten years after the GDC made CPD compulsory for dentists.

At this year’s British Dental Association (BDA) Conference the GDC will be focussing on its Fitness to Practice (FTP) work. The GDC began a major review of its FTP process in 2011 and already operational changes are visible. There has already been a reduction in the number of cases awaiting an initial decision by the Investigating Committee from 301 at the end of February 2011 to 129 at the end of December 2011.

General Medical Council (GMC)

The GMC have responded to the result of appeal of Professor Walker-Smith. In a statement Niall Dickson, Chief Executive Officer of the GMC, emphasised that the result of this case does not re-open the debate surrounding the MMR vaccine, but that the court had made several criticisms of the Panel’s failure to give proper reasons for their decision, something which is being taken seriously by the GMC:

“Over the last two years we have begun to deliver significant reforms to our fitness to practise work, including major changes in the way we adjudicate cases. A key change will be the establishment, in a few months time, of the new Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service which will take over the running and oversight of doctors' fitness to practise hearings.”

The Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service will operate as an autonomous unit, separate from the other work by the GMC.

Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA)

The SRA have finally announced that they have licensed their first alternative business structures (ABS). Under the Legal Services Act, law firms no longer need to be managed by lawyers; they can deliver both legal and non-legal services as well as attract outside investment. It is hoped that these reforms will increase competition and provide consumers with greater choice and access to legal and related services. Others have been more cynical and the ABS have already been nicknamed ‘Tesco Law’. One of the first ABS announced was not in fact Tesco, but Co-Operative Legal Services, part of the Co-Operative Group. The SRA continues to process the applications it has received from firms and organisations across England and Wales.

Financial Services Authority (FSA)

The FSA has fined Coutts & Company £8.75 million for failing to take reasonable care to establish and maintain effective anti-money laundering systems. If Coutts had not agreed to settle at an early stage, they would not have qualified for the 30% discount and would have been liable for a penalty of £12.5 million. Tracey McDermott, the FSA’s acting director of enforcement and financial crime said:

“This penalty should serve as a warning to other firms that, not only should they ensure they constantly review and adapt their controls to changing financial crime risks within their businesses, but that they must also make changes to reflect changing regulatory or other legal standards.”

The FSA has published its analysis of the main risks potentially facing consumers within the financial services sector over the next 12 months. The results show that in the face of slower economy, low interest rates and poor returns on investments many people are saving more, shopping around and paying off their debt. This means that one of the major risks facing consumers at the moment is buying or being sold unsuitable products. Early intervention to try and prevent mass consumer detriment is one of the FSA’s main objectives this year.

Julia Hicks

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