Press Round-Up: Regulatory and Professional Discipline May 2018 - July 2018

27 July 2018

General Medical Council (GMC)

The GMC has published a strategy outlining its work on equality, diversity and inclusion. The four main objectives of this strategy are to take steps to make sure that it; acts on equality, diversity and inclusion issues associated with its corporate strategy, carries out its regulatory activities fairly, provides leadership and uses its influence to help address inequalities for doctors and patients and is an inclusive organisation.

On 9 July 2018, the GMC published the initial findings from its annual national training survey. This is a UK-wide poll of more than 70,000 doctors in training and doctors who act as trainers. Almost half of trainees reported regularly working beyond their rostered hours, and around one in five said they often feel short of sleep while at work. Forty per cent described the intensity of their work as ‘heavy or very heavy’. Trainers also reported heavy workloads, with a third of them saying it was hard to find the time they need to fulfil their educational roles. The GMC is now analysing the results in more detail, and working with education providers to make sure improvements are made where training falls below the expected standards. A more detailed report based on the findings will be published later in the year.

Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC)

The HCPC has launched a consultation on a revised version of their Indicative Sanctions Policy. This policy sets out the principles Practice Committee Panels should consider when deciding what, if any, sanction should be applied in fitness to practise cases. The policy was first published in 2014 and has been updated periodically since this time when required. The HCPC are now undertaking a more comprehensive review of the existing policy. The consultation runs until 31 August 2018 and further information can be accessed here.

Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC)

The NMC has become the regulator in law for nursing associates. This is the new health and care role designed to bridge the gap between unregulated health care assistants and regulated nurses. The NMC Council agreed to become the regulator for nursing associates in January 2017, after a request by the then Secretary of State for Health and Social Care the Rt Hon Jeremy Hunt MP. In September 2018, the Council will agree the standards that nursing associates must meet to join the register, the Code for nursing associates and the annual registration fee.

General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC)

The GPhC has introduced an updated version of its publication and disclosure policy, about which it is seeking views and feedback. The two key changes are that the policy sets out what the GPhC needs to consider when making decisions to publish or disclose information that is in the public interest and changes to the length of time for which sanctions appear on a pharmacy professional’s entry on the online register, including lowering the period for a removal from indefinite to ten years and introducing a specific length of time for which a pharmacy professional’s restoration appears on the online register. Further information can be found here.

The GPhC is also seeking views on its proposals that online pharmacies will have to put in place new safeguards to protect people who want to obtain medicines online, including opiates, antibiotics, asthma inhalers and Botox. A discussion paper sets out how the GPhC plans to strengthen its guidance for the owners of online pharmacies based in Great Britain to help make sure people can obtain medicines safely and effectively online. This can be accessed here.

Professional Standards Authority (PSA)

The PSA has launched a second consultation as part of their review of the Standards of Good Regulation and they are now seeking feedback on the detailed proposals. The new Standards will remove duplication and will provide greater flexibility for the regulators to develop their processes. The proposed Standards also look at the way in which regulators monitor their own performance and ensure that the different parts of the organisation are working together to protect the public. The deadline for responses is 10 September 2018.

Bar Standards Board (BSB)

The BSB has launched a consultation to seek views as to whether their proposed new rules for the training and qualification of barristers provide the right framework to give effect to the new policies announced as part of its Future Bar Training (FBT) programme. The consultation presents a new, simplified set of qualification rules that will replace Part 4 (also known as the Bar Training Rules) of the current BSB Handbook. The closing date for this consultation is 17 September 2018 and the full consultation document is available here.

The BSB has also published guidance that aims to encourage barristers to follow good practice when they receive feedback from their clients. It has also published a guide for the public about using and leaving feedback about barristers’ services. The BSB was asked by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) to produce this guidance as one of the recommendations in its 2016 study into the legal services' market.

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