Press Round-Up: Regulatory and Professional Discipline April - May 2020

3 June 2020

Financial Reporting Council (FRC) 

Following a major review by the FRC, the regulator states that tools for flagging signs of poor quality audits should be used more effectively so timely corrective action can be taken. The FRC confirmed that during the study it looked at the indicators of both poor and good audit quality within the UK.

The FRC’s Director of Supervision stated:

Audit firms need a relentless focus on improving audit quality. Our review found that audit quality indicators, if used correctly, can help firms take decisive and immediate actions to improve audit quality.  
Public reporting of a consistent set of audit quality indicators is required to provide companies and investors another window on audit quality. It is clear that improvements are needed in this area and the FRC will be consulting on proposals in due course.” 

A link to the full report can be found here.


General Medical Council (GMC)

In a joint statement from the GMC and Care Quality Commission (CQC), the regulator addressed death certification during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Coronavirus Act 2020 put in place the mechanisms for changes relating to the registration of deaths in all four countries of the UK. As such, the joint statement provides some clarification stating:

The doctor issuing the MCCD has to state what they believe to be the most likely cause of death based on their knowledge of the patient, the events surrounding the death, and the medical history and any investigations available. With a lack of comprehensive COVID-19 swab testing of individuals in the community, the clinical accuracy of the cause of death based on clinical opinion is of key importance in the public health management of the pandemic. It determines the accuracy of data collected by the Office for National Statistics, National Records of Scotland and Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Authority. There may also be significant implications for other household members, or for the residential settings in which a person may have lived, when a diagnosis of COVID-19 is recorded on a MCCD.

In the circumstances of there being no positive swab diagnosis, it is satisfactory to apply clinical judgement. Doctors are expected to state the cause of death to the best of their knowledge and belief, it is not required that the cause must be proven.

Full details can be accessed here.


General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC)

The GPhC has issued an update on new legislation relating to controlled drugs during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The new measures may potentially be introduced at some point in a particular area if there were severe disruptions to the supply of repeat prescriptions of controlled drugs for patients. The regulator asks registrants to share key points with colleagues:

The Government is clear that these measures will not come into use with immediate effect.

The amendments are enabling and would only be used in limited circumstances following an announcement by the Secretary of State and under conditions specified by the health service in the area(s) to which the announcement applies.

The announcement will include:

  • The measure(s) being made active
  • The duration period, including the start date
  • The area to which the measure applies (this could be limited to a region, or an area covered by a Board)

These measures will only be used if demand pressures and workforce illness during the pandemic means that local health services are at imminent risk of failing to fulfil their duties. Each request for the use of emergency measures will be assessed on a case-by-case basis. The emergency measures will only last for the duration of the emergency. 

Before engaging one or more of the measures, clear guidance for healthcare professionals will be in place, and the precise scope and duration of the measures clearly defined.

The emergency measures, if enacted, will end as soon as possible after the measure ceases to be necessary. 

The maximum period for which a measure will apply is three months (which may be extended for another three months if the Secretary of State decides it is necessary). "

You can review the statement in full here.


Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA)

The SRA issued a warning to firms regarding cybercrime during lockdown. Whilst restrictions are easing, firms must continue to be vigilant. The SRA has consolidated the key points into Q&A’s to assist firms with navigating this difficult period. Please see more here.


Nursing and midwifery Council (NMC)

The NMC has issued its next five year strategy. Chief Executive and Registrar, Andrea Sutcliffe CBE, stated:

While our plans to formally implement this new strategy are on hold until the time is right, I’m proud and grateful that its three core pillars that will guide us over the next five years - regulate, support and influence - have also underpinned our NMC response at this time of crisis by supporting nurses, midwives and nursing associates in all health and social care settings and helping to expand the workforce”.


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