NB: All information correct at time of publication and can be found on the individual regulator’s websites.
Bar Standards Board (BSB)
- New board members for the BSB: The BSB has announced the appointment of three new board members. The new board members are: Judith Farbey QC; Naomi Ellenbogen QC; and Aidan Christie QC. The Board is made up of 15 people, 8 of whom are not barristers; and a lay majority. The BSB says that the new appointments fill current or imminent vacancies, and help the BSB to ensure it has expert input from the profession into the BSB’s independent public interest regulation. Chair of the BSB, Sir Andrew Burns said: "These three new appointments will add expertise, dedication, energy and experience to the existing board. I look forward to forming a happy and productive working relationship with them, particularly at a time when we are considering the BSB's strategic plan for the next five years." The incoming board members were selected from a wide field of strong candidates by an independent panel, chaired by Dr Kenneth Fleming. Speaking about the appointments Dr Fleming said: "The panel interviewed a variety of engaged and experienced candidates in a competitive and fair selection process. We are delighted that Judith, Naomi and Aidan have accepted our respective offers of the roles." Mr Christie QC and Ms Ellenbogen QC will take up their appointments from 15 September; and Ms Farbey QC from 1 January 2016.
- BSB statement on public access top-up training deadline: The BSB Handbook states that barristers registered to undertake Public Access work on 4 October 2013 must either complete Public Access top-up training by 4 October 2015, or cease to undertake Public Access work. The BSB has received feedback from training providers that demand for top-up training before the deadline of 4 October 2015 is exceeding current capacity. The BSB has therefore granted a 'period of grace' for one month, during which the providers may make available additional top-up courses. This means that barristers registered to undertake Public Access work on 4 October 2013 must now complete the top-up Public Access training by 4 November 2015. Barristers who fail to undertake the top-up training by this new deadline will have to cease public access work until they have completed the full public access course. The BSB has appointed the Bar Council, Barristers Direct and HJT Training to provide the top-up training. The contact details of the training providers can be found on the BSB’s website.
Financial Conduct Authority (FCA)
- The FCA’s approach to the implementation of ring-fencing and ring-fencing transfer schemes: The FCA will be assessing the potential risks posed by the implementation of ring-fencing. In addition, the FCA will consult with the Prudential Regulation Authority (PRA) in relation to transfers of business to achieve ring-fencing purposes and the FCA will assess the potential risks posed by the proposed schemes to its objectives. The FCA has published guidance which sets out its proposed approach to the implementation of ring-fencing and ring-fencing transfer schemes (RFTSs). It also clarifies its approach to applications for authorisations or other regulatory transactions submitted by firms for the implementation of ring-fencing. The FCA notes that its guidance should be read in conjunction with the PRA’s consultation paper CP33/15 setting out the PRA’s proposed approach to RFTSs.
General Dental Council (GDC)
- GDC response to the PSA’s report “Rethinking Regulation”: The GDC’s Chief Executive & Registrar, Evlynne Gilvarry, responded to the report from the Professional Standards Authority (PSA), saying: The GDC has been campaigning for legislative change to improve the effectiveness of regulation of dental professionals for a number of years. We hope that ministers will take the time to consider the PSA’s warnings and act accordingly. The PSA stresses the need for regulators to increase their focus on preventing breaches of standards. The GDC notes it has already taken a number of steps to achieve this, including:
- Clarifying standards so that dental professionals can more easily meet the legitimate expectations of patients;
- Maintaining a high threshold for quality assurance of education and training so that we can be sure newly-qualified dental professionals can practise safely”.
- Strengthening the GDC’s programme of continued professional development (CPD) to ensure dental professionals remain up-to-date.
General Medical Council (GMC)
- Consultation launched on guidelines to help medical students become better doctors: The GMC launched a joint consultation with Medical Schools Council (MSC) on guidelines to help medical students develop into competent and compassionate doctors that meet the expectations of patients and the public. This consultation follows engagement with medical schools and also a survey of over 2500 medical students earlier this year, which found that medical students generally have a good awareness of the professional standards they need to work to, both as a medical student and when they become doctors. However, there were some areas where students may benefit from more detailed guidance. The two pieces of guidance which will replace the current ‘Medical students: professional values and fitness to practise (2009)’ guidance are:
- ‘Medical students: professional values’ guidance is intended to help medical students understand the professional values they need to meet while they are at university.
- ‘Medical students: professionalism and fitness to practise’ is aimed at medical schools and universities to help them deal with concerns about students’ professional conduct and health.
The consultation is open until 11 November 2015. The two pieces of new guidance will be available in spring 2016 and expected to be implemented in medical schools from September 2016. For more information, please see the GMC’s website.
- New standards set for medical education and training promoting excellence and patient safety: The new standards, which will come into effect on 1 January 2016, cover both undergraduate and postgraduate medical education and are designed to put patient safety, quality of care, and fairness at the heart of the training received by both medical students and doctors. It also makes the roles and responsibilities of organisations delivering medical education clearer as well as the requirements for teaching, supervision and support. Furthermore, the standards highlight the importance of leadership and governance, ensuring those providing medical education are accountable for the quality of training they provide. To meet the GMC’s standards, organisations will need to demonstrate they have a culture where concerns about patient safety and standards of care or training can be raised without fear of adverse consequences. More information about these standards can be found on the GMC’s website.
General Optical Council (GOC)
- Consultation on voluntary code of practice for online contact lens suppliers: On the 3 August 2015, the GOC launched a consultation on a voluntary code of practice for online contact lens suppliers to make it safer for people to buy contact lenses online. The draft code of practice is designed to improve the practice of online contact lens suppliers and encourage people who buy online to have regular aftercare appointments and eye examinations. Similar to other online health channels, suppliers who sign up to the code will be able to display an endorsement logo, making it easier for the public to find online suppliers who follow good practice. The draft code of practice has been drawn up by a stakeholder group from across the sector. It includes representatives from consumer groups, optical representative bodies, education providers and retailers and online suppliers. The GOC is consulting on the draft code from 3 August to 12 October 2015. The voluntary code forms part of the GOC’s strategy for tackling illegal practice in the optical sector. This involves continuing to handle complaints in line with its prosecution protocol, collaboration with other enforcement bodies to address high-risk areas of illegal practice, guidance for the public on the safe purchase and use of contact lenses and the development of a voluntary code of practice for online contact lens suppliers.
- Council approves standards of practice: The GOC has agreed new standards of practice for optometrists and dispensing opticians, and new standards for optical students to come into effect from 1 April 2016. The standards will support registrants by clarifying the GOC’s expectations as the statutory regulator with responsibility for setting professional standards in the optical sector. The standards also give room for registrants to use their professional judgement in deciding how to apply the standards in any given situation. The standards are flexible enough to deal with future developments in practice across the four nations of the UK. They are also flexible enough for registrants to apply regardless of whether they are employees, locums or business owners and whether they work on the high street, in hospital or in domiciliary settings. The standards are consistent with the standards of other healthcare professionals and so will help registrants who wish to provide enhanced community services as part of teams spanning primary and secondary care.
General Pharmaceutical Council (GPHC)
- GPhC sets out next steps to improve its CPD call and review process: The GPhC is reminding all registrants of the continued requirement to undertake and record continuing professional development (CPD) activities as it sets out its next steps to improve the CPD call and review process. These next steps include:
- Modifying and simplifying the recording requirements for CPD entries
- Improving the online recording tool to make it more accessible and recording simpler
- Consulting next year on specific proposals to introduce a random sampling approach
The changes follow on from an independent review of the GPhC’s CPD arrangements which was published in June, which suggested a number of potential improvements to the CPD call and review process, including randomly sampling the register to encourage registrants to record their CPD more frequently. They fit in with the wider work the GPhC is undertaking to move towards a process for registrants to further demonstrate their ability to meet our standards over the course of their careers, of which CPD will be an important element alongside peer discussion and evidence drawn from professional practice.
Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC)
- HCPC launches feedback survey to education providers: The HCPC’s Education Department has launched a feedback survey, inviting responses from education providers involved in the delivery of approved programmes over the 2012–13, 2013–14 and 2014–15 academic years. The survey asks for feedback from education providers about their experiences of the HCPC’s approval and monitoring processes, supporting activities, service levels and communications. Additional questions relate to lay visitor involvement and approval visits to social worker and approved mental health professional (AMHP) programmes. Responses will be used to inform a formal review of the Education Department’s processes and supporting activities. The Education Providers' Feedback Survey is now open until Thursday 15 October. The HCPC will communicate the findings of the survey in early 2016. Programme leaders will be able to access the survey through the HCPC’s website.
- HCPC announces new registration fees: The HCPC announced that following parliamentary approval, the registration renewal fee will increase from £80 to £90 per year with effect from Saturday 1 August 2015. There are also increases to other registration fees. Existing registrants will pay the new renewal fee when their profession next renews its registration after this date. There is more information available on the HCPC’s website.
Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC)
- The importance of maintaining registration: The NMC notes that from November 2015, applying for readmission will be the only route back onto the register for nurses and midwives who allow their registration to lapse. If a nurse or midwife allows their registration to lapse, he/she will need to make an application for re-admission to regain access to the register. This process can take between two and six weeks, depending on circumstances. It is illegal for someone to work as nurse or midwife while unregistered.
- The NMC further notes that although the vast majority of nurses and midwives keep their registration up to date, a small number of people have regularly allowed their registration to lapse. If they have continued to work, this contravenes the Code for nurse and midwives and is illegal. It can also cause difficulties for nurses and midwives with their employers, who require them to be registered. More information is available on the NMC’s website.
Solicitors Regulatory Authority (SRA)
- Proposals for consumer credit regulation adopted by SRA Board: The SRA announced that solicitors should be able to carry out certain consumer credit activities under SRA authorisation as long as their activities are central to the legal services they provide. The SRA Board approved the move at its meeting on 9 September 2015. It will ensure that firms do not also have to be regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and are not over-burdened with significant additional rules for consumer credit, and that their client protections remain in place. The SRA has been working for over a year on the best way to approach its regulation of solicitors providing consumer credit services. This follows the transfer of the responsibility for regulating consumer credit work from the Office of Fair Trading to the FCA on 1 April 2014. SRA guidance on carrying out consumer credit activities is set to be published in the autumn. Firms will need to read the guidance, in addition to new rules, when carrying out consumer credit work. The consumer credit approach will need to be approved by both the FCA and the Legal Services Board. If agreed, changes to the SRA Handbook will come into effect on 1 April 2016.