Press Round-Up: Regulatory and Professional Discipline June - July 2020

6 August 2020

A Regulatory press round-up for June - July 2020.

Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC)

The Chair of the HCPC, Christine Elliott, penned a response to the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, Matt Hancock on the future of healthcare. She wrote:

“In professional regulation, we urgently need a new legislative framework if we are to move beyond pre-pandemic old ways and we, with other regulators, have been working with your Department to prepare this. At HCPC we are committed to light touch, proportionate, risk-based regulation, and we have adopted those principles in recent months (even though they run against the grain of the framework under which we operate). But they undoubtedly represent the most effective way to keep patients and service users safe, while enabling and supporting the professionals we regulate to innovate and adapt to the rapidly changing world of healthcare”.

You can read the full letter here.

 

Financial Reporting Council (FRC)

On 23 July 2020, the FRC issued two Exposure Drafts proposing amendments to UK and Ireland accounting standards.

The first proposes to:

  1. clarify the requirement to assess the going concern basis of accounting; and
  2. require the disclosure of any related material uncertainties,

when preparing interim financial statements in accordance with FRS 104. 

The FRC said:

As FRS 104 already requires an assessment of the going concern basis of accounting, in order to include a statement that the same accounting policies are applied as compared to the most recent annual financial statements, this element of the proposals will not be a change for companies, and should be applied prior to these proposals being finalised.  The disclosure of any related material uncertainties will enhance the information available to users of the interim financial statements.”

The second proposes explicit requirements for accounting for temporary rent concessions for operating leases given a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, and within a limited timeframe. 

The comment period for both proposals ends on 1 September 2020. 

On 31 July 2020, the FRC published its second Annual Enforcement Review (AER). The report sets out a review of the year including an analysis of concluded cases over the last 6 years to identify recurring themes. The FRC has said that the report highlights a greater use by it of constructive engagement and the wider deployment of tailored non-financial sanctions.

Elizabeth Barrett, FRC Executive Counsel and Executive Director of Enforcement said:
 
Given the detrimental impact audit failure can have on investor and wider stakeholder confidence it is critical that when audit standards are not met or ethical failures occur, they are identified and rectified. This year’s AER shows an increased use of constructive engagement, to provide a timely and proportionate way of addressing deficiencies and the wider deployment of non-financial sanctions to drive audit quality. The overall results for the year also reflect the impact of a larger and more effective enforcement division.”
 
A link to the AER can be found here.

 

General Medical Council (GMC)

On 3 July 2020, the GMC set out its plans for resuming Professional and Linguistic Assessment Board 2 tests for overseas doctors and confirmed that existing fitness to practise cases would be restarted.

Due to the pandemic, the GMC has previously indicated that its aim was to reduce the impact of its fitness to practise investigations by only requesting information from employers and healthcare professionals where there was an immediate patient safety concern.

The GMC Chief Executive stated:

“Investigations are difficult for everyone involved, but we’re mindful that delaying our decisions any longer could cause additional stress, so we need to take a balanced approach. This work will progress in direct discussion with affected doctors, medical defence and support organisations, employers and complainants.

“And because different parts of the system and health service experience the impact of the pandemic in different ways, we’ll be flexible on timescales, and we will highlight the support available to everyone involved.’

 

General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC)

The GPhC has set out its position with respect to the sale of COVID-19 rapid antibody tests in community pharmacies.

The GPhC’s Chief Executive has said that it is not currently appropriate for the tests to be sold in community pharmacies or recommended by pharmacy professionals. He writes:

“We would expect all pharmacy professionals to consider the wider public health impact. During this ongoing national public health crisis, any activity that may contribute to false results or assurances that then impact on public behaviour should not be supported. Both the World Health Organisation and SAGE, the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies, have advised there are potentially negative impacts on public health if individuals assume immunity from a positive result and adapt their behaviour in a way which could increase the risk of continued transmission.”

The full letter can be accessed here.

 

Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC)

The NMC has provided an update on its implementation of the new Test of Competence and said a detailed timetable will be available soon. The Test of Competence is used to assess those wanting to join the register from overseas or re-join the register after a long period away from practice.

Emma Broadbent, Director of Professional Regulation for the Nursing and Midwifery Council, said:

“In 2019 we started work to update our Test of Competence (ToC) to better reflect our innovative new standards for both nurses and midwives. This was due to go live this summer, but due to Covid-19 and the need for us to support the health and social care workforce, we have decided to postpone the implementation of the new ToC until April 2021.

“As we begin to move out of the emergency and toward our new normal, we’ll resume our work to implement the new ToC. I am confident this new timetable will make sure we’re able to fully engage with our partners so that all candidates, employers and recruiters are ready for these changes.”

More information on the new test can be found here.

 

 

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