Press Round-Up: Regulatory and Professional Discipline February - March 2022

4 March 2022

General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC)

Revalidation requirements

The GPhC has advised that full revalidation requirements for pharmacists and pharmacy technicians are to be reinstated from 1 October 2022, following the Government’s recent announcement that emergency powers put in place to help with the response to the COVID-19 pandemic will be removed later this year. 

In 2020 revalidation requirements were initially postponed, then eased, enabling pharmacists and pharmacy technicians to submit just one reflective account for revalidation. This was implemented to reduce the pressures on pharmacy staff during the pandemic as they worked hard to protect patients and the public.

The reinstatement of full revalidation requirements means that from October 1 this year, pharmacy professionals will have to submit all six revalidation records when they renew, which comprise: 

  • four CPD records (two of which must be planned events)
  • one peer discussion
  • one reflective account

The selection of three standards which pharmacists should use to write their reflective account will be reviewed and updated in May 2022. The new standards should be used to write reflective accounts for revalidation submissions after 1 October 2022. 

Those whose revalidation is due this year should check the exact submission requirements for their revalidation date, as well as submission timeframes.

PSA review 

The PSA has found that the GPhC met 15 out of 18 of its Standards of Good Regulation during 2020/21. The report from the PSA recognises that the GPhC responded and adapted well to the COVID-19 pandemic across the organisation. In connection with the GPhC’s response to the pandemic, the PSA report noted that up-to-date information was frequently published online for registrants (pharmacists and pharmacy technicians) as well as for members of the public. The fact that two additional registers were set up and that work was carried out remotely where possible was also highlighted. 

All the standards were met across four PSA categories: 

  • General standards (which includes equality, diversity and inclusion, the way we provide information and apply policies, respond to public inquiries and other independent reports, and work with stakeholders to protect patients and the public)
  • Guidance and Standards
  • Education and Training
  • Registration

However, three out of five standards within the Fitness to Practice category were not met.

The PSA report acknowledged there had been efforts to address the previous concerns raised in the 2019/20 performance review, and that improvements had been made. The PSA also recognised that the pandemic had delayed the action plan put in place by the GPhC and had adversely affected how quickly concerns were progressed. 

Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC)

The HCPC has launched its new Health and Wellbeing Framework for employees. The ultimate goal of the framework is to improve the health and wellbeing of HCPC employees and to prevent work related stress. This encompasses the physical, mental and social health of employees and recognises that employees’ values, personal development and work within the HCPC contribute to their overall wellbeing at work. This document will be regularly reviewed to ensure it is meeting the needs of its employees.

Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) and General Medical Council (GMC)

The NMC and GMC announced that they have collaborated to refresh their professional duty of candour guidance, which sets out professionals’ responsibility to be open and honest about what happened when things go wrong in health and care. The guidance is a collaboration between the NMC and the GMC, and was first published in 2015.

The refreshed version of the guidance includes updates about reporting systems, terminology, and the support available to health and care professionals. However it has not created any new or additional requirements for professionals.

The professional duty of candour applies to all health and care professionals. The guidance supports nurses, midwives and nursing associates to address concerns, speak up and reflect on their actions, helping to promote a culture of openness.

There are two parts to the guidance:

  1. Nurses, midwives and nursing associates have a duty to be open and honest with the people who use services, and those close to them. This includes explaining when and why things have gone wrong, and apologising to them.
  2. Professionals also have a duty to report incidents, and be open and honest with their colleagues, managers, and employers. This might include their health board, trust or head office, and the NMC.

Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA)

In the wake of the UK Government imposing sanctions on Russia, the SRA issued a reminder to law firms of the importance of their role in ensuring all measures and restrictions are complied with.

All SRA-regulated firms must have appropriate policies in place to ensure they comply with sanctions legislation, including undertaking regular and appropriate checks of sanctions lists.

The financial sanctions regime prevents law firms from doing business or acting for listed individuals, entities or ships. Firms should check the financial sanctions lists before offering services or undertaking transactions for clients. If an individual is on the sanctions list and subject to an asset freeze, firms may not deal with those funds or make resources available to that person.

They must also make a report to the Office of Financial Sanctions Implementation (OFSI) if they suspect a customer of their firm is a designated person under the financial sanctions regime.

The SRA reminded law firms that they have responsibilities under this regime to safeguard the UK and protect the reputation of the legal services industry. Breaching the financial sanctions requirements can result in criminal prosecution or a fine.

Combined update

The Government has announced its intention for the healthcare professions temporary registers to close on 30 September 2022.

Temporary registers were set up after the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care asked regulators to use emergency powers in order to rapidly register healthcare professionals to assist in the national response to the COVID-19 emergency. 

The temporary register includes professionals who had voluntarily removed themselves or were removed for non-renewal from the register in the last three years and did not have Fitness to Practise issues. Healthcare professionals who are on the temporary register are invited to consider applying to re-join the main register of the relevant body if they want to continue practising after the end of September. 

John Barwick, Chief Executive and Registrar of HCPC stated:

"The temporary register has been a vital mechanism to support the rapid deployment of additional Allied Health Professionals, healthcare scientists and other professionals over the course of the Covid-19 pandemic, at a time when their skills and expertise had never been more acutely needed."

"More than 22,000 former registrants were added to the register, giving them the chance to rejoin the workforce and support patients, the public and other healthcare professionals."

"I would like to take this opportunity to thank all those who returned to practice and provided a vital boost to the health and care system over the past two years, and would strongly encourage those who are currently on the temporary register who have not already done so to submit an application to join the main HCPC register.”

 

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