Press Round-Up: Regulatory and Professional Discipline December 2020 - January 2021

28 January 2021

Finance

Financial Conduct Authority (FCA)

On the 31st December 2020 the FCA released a statement highlighting some of the changes to the ways in which UK Firms can provide services to EEA customers following the implementation of the Temporary Permissions Regime (TRP) and the end of the Brexit transition period.

The FCA said:

Alongside the TPR, the Government has created the financial services contracts regime (FSCR). This allows, for a limited period, EEA passporting firms not in the TPR to continue to service UK contracts entered into prior to the end of the transition period (or prior to when they enter FSCR) in order to conduct an orderly exit from the UK market now that the transition period has ended.

The extent to which UK firms can continue to provide services to customers in the EEA depends on local law and local regulators’ expectations. We expect UK firms to take the steps available to them to make sure they act consistently with these local laws and expectations. We are clear that firms’ decisions need to be guided by obtaining appropriate outcomes for their customers, wherever they are based.”

As a result of the changes, the FCA are now also the UK regulator for Credit Rating Agencies (CRA’s). Further details can be found here

On the 18th January 2021 the FCA published a reminder to Firms to review their regulatory permissions in light of the Financial Services Bill currently before Parliament. The FCA said:

We are reminding firms of their obligation to regularly review regulatory permissions to ensure they are up to date and removed where they are not needed. We expect firms to notify us of material changes and apply to make any necessary changes in a timely way. Please note that we have the power to cancel a firm’s Part 4A permission if it has not carried on a regulated activity for at least 12 months.

The full statement can be found here.

 

Healthcare

Care Quality Commission (CQC)

On 13th January 2021 the CQC released a statement providing an update on their regulatory approach during the COVID-19 pandemic. The CQC confirmed that it:

Will only undertake inspection activity that either helps create capacity to respond to COVID-19 or that responds to significant risk of harm to the public.”

A full list of the prioritised inspection activities, and details of which programmes are paused or modified are set out in the full statement which can be found here.  

 

General Dental Council (GDC)

On 14th January 2021 the GDC published supplementary advice to GDC case examiners about the factors they should consider in considering the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on a registrant’s ability to deliver care.

The guidance includes the following highlighted factors to consider in determining whether a registrant’s fitness to practice is currently impaired include:

  • Availability of PPE;
  • Inability to carry out treatment due to lack of PPE;
  • Discomfort from wearing PPE and the impact of PPE on communication;
  • Pressures of managing new guidance and protocols;
  • Uncertainty in identifying which form of guidance was most appropriate;
  • Services being unavailable due to COVID-19 and closure of dental practices;
  • Staff shortages;
  • Limits to service capacity;
  • Inability to offer a wide range of treatments;
  • Inability to fully assess and diagnose patients through remote appointments.
  • Inability to refer to services;
  • Delay in treatment;
  • Work pressure from employers/practice management;
  • Working outside of normal routine, or requirements to work in unfamiliar roles, teams and/or environments at short notice; and
  • Personal circumstances.

The full advice can be found here.

 

General Medical Council (GMC)

On the 4th of December 2020 the GMC released a statement about its participation in the UK-REACH study into COVID-19 and BME healthcare workers. The GMC chief executive stated:

“‘Evidence suggests black and minority ethnic (BME) healthcare workers are more at risk from COVID-19. Understanding any connection between coronavirus and ethnicity is vital, and so we are pleased to play a role in this important research.

The statement can be found here, information on the study itself can be found on UK-REACH’s website. Other UK regulators including the HCPC are also participating in the study.

 

General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC)

On the 19th of January 2021 the GPhC published new standards for the initial education and training of those seeking to join the professional register. These standards are to be implemented from 2021 onwards. The GPhC’s accompanying statement highlights the following changes:

  • introducing a new set of learning outcomes that cover the full five years of education and training, and which can link to their continued development after registration;
  • incorporating the skills, knowledge and attributes for prescribing, to enable pharmacists to independently prescribe from the point of registration;
  • emphasising the application of science in clinical practice and including a greater focus on the key skills needed for current and future roles – including professional judgement, management of risk, and diagnostic and consultation skills;
  • making the fifth year of initial education and training a foundation training year with strengthened supervision support, and collaborative working between higher education institutions, statutory education bodies and employers; and
  • having a greater emphasis on equality, diversity and inclusion to combat discrimination and deal with health inequalities

The GPhC’s full statement can be found here, and the revised standards for initial training are available here

 

Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC)

On the 17th of December 2020 the HCPC published a statement confirming its response to NHS England’s consultations on proposals to allow clinical scientists, biomedical scientists and operating department practitioners to supply and administer medicines using a Patient Group Direction, to extend the list of drugs which can be prescribed by podiatrists and physiotherapists, and extend the list of controlled exempted drugs administered by paramedics.

The HCPC stated that:

HCPC’s submissions fully support these proposed changes, which have the potential to result in a number of benefits for both service users and our registrants, through more streamlined and timelier provision of treatment and care.

For all professions, further post-registration training will be required to ensure registrants continue to practise safely and effectively within their specific scope of practice. HCPC also makes clear that professionals will need to ensure that their Continuing Professional Development (CPD) activities can evidence their knowledge, skills and experience where their scope of practise may broaden with these changes.”

The statement can be found here

 

Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC)

On the 5th of January 2021 the NMC provided an update in relation to expansion of the temporary COIV-19 register to include overseas-trained nurses.

The NMC will open the temporary register to the following additional overseas-trained nurses:

  1. Overseas-trained nurses who have been issued with their OSCE decision letters, of which there are currently just over 2,000 people.
  2. Overseas-trained nurses from whom the NMC has received a registration application and relevant supporting declarations. We will ask employers to work with the NMC to identify who they wish to include on the temporary register from this group and to provide certification regarding each applicant’s English language ability, clinical skills, and health and character.

The full text of the update can be found here, whilst details of the temporary registration scheme can be found here.

 

Legal Services

Bar Standards Board (BSB)

On the 22nd of December 2020 the BSB issued a press release announcing amendments to the BSB Handbook to take effect following the end of the transition period following the UK’s exit of the EU. The new rules will apply from the 31st December 2020.

The amendment primarily impact Barristers habitually resident outside the UK or practising primarily in EU countries. Full details of the changes can be found here.

 

Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA)

On the 21st of December 2020 the SRA Chair released a statement commenting on Ryan Beckwith –v- SRA. Anna Bradley said:

“We prosecuted the case at the independent Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal, which fined the partner £35,000. The tribunal decision was overturned at the Divisional Court. We have decided not to appeal the judgment of the court in the case of Ryan Beckwith -v- SRA. This follows careful consideration of the judgment, as well as advice from leading counsel on the grounds for doing so.”

The statement’s concludes that:

In overturning the Tribunal's decision, the court expressly limited itself to the circumstances of this case. Our case did not depend on the issue of consent. Rather, we argued that the circumstances indicated vulnerability and abuse of a position of seniority and authority. Those and some other key facts were not found proved by the Tribunal. The court's judgment was based on and limited to the application of our Principles to the findings of fact made by the Tribunal in this case.

It's important to be clear that the events in question took place prior to the introduction of our new Standards and Regulations and the full suite of supporting resources. We do not expect to win all the cases that we prosecute and we always reflect on important cases. In this instance, we are carefully considering whether this case highlights whether we need to do more to improve our ability to take appropriate action in the future.”

The statement can be read in full here.

 

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