NHS :: Regulation of NHS doctors and other health care professionals

The King?s Fund broadly welcomed the government?s White Paper on the regulation of doctors and other health care professionals, hailing the proposals as a good deal for patients, the public and the medical profession.

Commenting in response to the publication of the White Paper, Trust, Assurance and Safety: The regulation of health professionals in the 21st century, King?s Fund Deputy Director of Policy Anna Dixon said:

?We welcome the White Paper?s proposals to establish an independent adjudication body, separate from the General Medical Council (GMC), which will achieve greater independent oversight and ensure professionals get a fair hearing. We hope that other professional regulators will take up the opportunity this presents for achieving greater independence of their own adjudication functions.

?Having equal numbers of lay people and health professionals sitting on the new professional regulatory bodies, and making sure medical representatives are appointed rather than elected, will lead to more transparent and fairer decision-making. The government?s commitment to defining more clearly who is eligible to be a lay member is also to be welcomed. If regulators are to act in the public interest these members should represent society.?

The White Paper proposes that the revalidation procedure ? the so-called MOT for doctors ? be divided into two different checks: one, a broad re-licensing check, will take place every five years to ensure that it is safe for the doctor to go on practising; the other, for specialist doctors and general practitioners, will be carried out by the professional regulatory bodies, and will examine the person?s on-going competence in their specialist field. The White Paper says the structures for this specialist check will be introduced gradually and tested over time.

Anna Dixon said: ?It is important that working out how to implement the specialist checks to support recertification does not delay implementing the broader, more general, five-year checks, which need to be established very quickly.?

And she added: ?There remain challenges in implementing revalidation for professionals working in diverse settings. The proposed system of revalidation is employment-based, and relies to some extent on governance and management arrangements that are peculiar to NHS employees. Health care professionals work in a wide range of employment situations ? from very large NHS teaching hospitals, through small businesses, such as opticians and pharmacists, to individual practitioners, such as chiropractors and osteopaths, and locums working for more than one employer. Greater clarity is needed about how all these different kinds of practitioners will be subject to the same standards of revalidation.?

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