The PSA calls for action from the Government over out-of-date regulation

Regulation

The PSA has called for action on out-of-date regulation

The Professional Standards Authority has called on the Government to act out-of-date regulation.

The calls come after the Professional Standards Authority (PSA) published a report today, Rethinking Regulation, which points to radical action on expensive healthcare regulation.

Backing the calls, Mick Armstrong, chair of the British Dental Association, said: ‘There are over a million regulated healthcare practitioners in Britain, serving tens of millions of patients.

‘Political intransigence is letting antiquated laws remain standard practice.

‘And it’s come at a cost, in time and money, and patients and practitioners deserve better.’

Regulation

The General Dental Council (GDC) recently came bottom of the league in a performance assessment of nine healthcare regulators.

The GDC, the regulator for the dental profession, has also recently faced a judicial review court hearing and a House of Commons Health Committee hearing on its performance. 

‘Bosses at the major healthcare regulators are in receipt of salaries larger than the Prime Minister’s,’ Mick Armstrong continued.

‘The people running these fiefdoms are enjoying power without responsibility, and it’s about time they put patients first.

‘We need to see a clear focus on the fundamentals.

‘That means protecting patients, building firm foundations, not succumbing to inexorable mission creep.

‘Too many regulators have lost the confidence of their professions.

‘Effective independent regulation requires trust, and rebuilding that will mean genuine engagement, not just lip service.’

Background

  • A June report by the PSA highlighted that the GDC had failed to meet a total of seven of its standards of good regulation. On fitness to practise (FTP), the GDC fully met only one of the 10 standards, and failed to meet six others, representing what the PSA describes as ‘a significant decline in its performance compared to an assessment it carried out in 2013/14’
  • The GDC has been criticised, by the PSA and by the profession, for not progressing FTP cases more swiftly, resulting in a backlog and some cases taking in excess of 18 months to go to a hearing
  • The GDC has suggested the cost of an average FTP case reaching hearings in 2013 was £78,000
  • A survey of 6,000 BDA members took place in July 2014. It indicated that 79% of members are not confident that the GDC is regulating dentists effectively, and that 66% of those who had experience of the GDC’s fitness to practise function rated the function fairly poor or very poor.

Political movements

  • The Prime Minister, in his response to the Francis inquiry report into Mid Staffordshire Foundation Trust, promised action to ‘sweep away our outdated and inflexible framework’ facing healthcare regulators
  • In the command paper Enabling Excellence, published in 2011, the Government acknowledged that the current legislative frameworks for all of the health and social care regulators are ‘expensive, complex and require continuous government intervention to keep them up to date’
  • The Law Commissions of the four UK nations were tasked with compiling a draft bill on health and social care regulation, with the expectation of sweeping reform across all healthcare regulators. Published in May 2014, it has not yet featured in a Queen’s Speech.

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