The regulatory bodies' responses to the evolving Covid-19 crisis has understandably dominated this period.
Health care regulators are encouraging registered professionals to keep up-to-date with all information and guidance concerning the pandemic. Departments of Health and Social Care, and other agencies including Public Health England and Health Protection Scotland are regularly updating their guidance for health and care professionals and information for the public.
Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC)
The HCPC has acknowledged that health and social care services will be under increasing pressure as the number of cases increase. The regulator is keen to ensure temporary registration for those returning to the frontline to assist is as smooth as possible, and have agreed to automatically re- register all Allied Health Professionals who have voluntarily left the HCPC register (with no outstanding concerns) over the last three years onto a temporary Covid-19 Register.
More detailed information about HCPC’s policy and guidance to those who choose to return can be accessed here
General Medical Council (GMC)
The GMC put out a statement (March 11th) acknowledging the pressures that Covid-19 will place on doctors, offering support, and offering the following advice:
We need to stick to the basic principles of being a good doctor. All doctors are expected to follow GMC guidance and use their judgement in applying the principles to the situations they face, but these rightly take account of the realities of a very abnormal emergency situation. We want doctors, in partnership with patients, always to use their professional judgement to assess risk and to make sure people receive safe care, informed by the values and principles set out in their professional standards. A rational approach to varying practice in an emergency is part of that professional response."
General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC)
The GPhC has been very pro-active in its media output in respect of Covid-19. Of particular note is a direct response to media criticism touching on the issue of profiteering, and a reminder of how that may attract regulatory attention:
Profiteering to take selfish advantage of the current challenging situation, whether with prices of shortage products or locum rates, risks bringing the profession into disrepute at a time when public confidence generally is so fragile, and so important."
Full detail can be accessed here.
The GPhC has also issued a statement with guidance to pharmacies about closures during the crisis, emphasising “the need to follow local NHS reporting and notification procedures and make clear to the public how long they’ll be closed for and where the nearest other pharmacy is”.
The Financial Conduct Authority, Financial Reporting Council and Prudential Regulation Authority have issued a joint statement in response to the current situation stating:
The coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic is an unprecedented situation but it is important to recognise that, while the reduction in activity associated with coronavirus could be sharp and large, it is likely to rebound sharply when social distancing measures are lifted. In addition, in the intervening period, while activity is disrupted, substantial and substantive government and central bank measures have been put in place in the UK and internationally to support businesses and households. These measures, which have been evolving rapidly and could evolve further, are expected to remain in place throughout the period of disruption
You can access the full statement and guidance here
The guidance includes updated regulatory requirements for companies and for auditors, and is mindful of the unprecedented and difficult current climate.
Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA)
The SRA were slow to issue a statement about or relating to the pandemic. Instead, their focus has been on the setting of strategic objectives for the next three years, which have been confirmed as follows:-
- Setting and maintaining high professional standards for solicitors and firms as the public would expect and ensuring that a commitment to excellent operational service and a positive customer experience is at the heart of all it does
- Actively supporting the adoption of legal technology, and other innovation, that helps to meet the needs of the public, business community, regulated entities and the economy
- Continually building the SRA's understanding of emerging opportunities and challenges for the users of legal services, the legal sector and its role in effectively regulating it
Finally the SRA have issued some guidance about their approach to regulation during the current period, stating that they “expect solicitors and firms to continue to meet the high standards the public expect” This means doing everything that reasonably can be done “to comply with our rules, and follow our Principles.” This includes serving the best interests of clients and upholding the rule of law. (Full SRA guidance text is here )
The SRA have also now set up a designated and hopefully updated page on their website to deal with “Coronavirus queries” -see here