General Medical Council (GMC)

The GMC is seeking views on new draft guidance which sets out what is expected from doctors when they are using social media. ‘Social media for doctors’ sets out the appropriate use of social media channels like Facebook and Twitter.  Explanatory guidance expands on the principles set out in the GMC’s core document, Good Medical Practice, which is also undergoing an extensive review in 2012.

General Dental Council (GDC)

The GDC has launched a ‘call for ideas’ in relation to whether patients should be allowed direct access to different types of dental professionals. At the moment, both the Standards Guidance and Scope of Practice make it clear that every member of the dental team must work on the prescription of a dentist. The GDC is now considering whether to remove this requirement and to allow ‘direct access’ for all patients.

The results from this call for ideas will be analysed and considered by the Direct Access Task and Finish Group at its meeting on 2 July 2012. The Group has invited a number of key stakeholders to come and give evidence to it within the next month and has also commissioned a literature review covering the available evidence.

Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA)

The SRA has backed the Legal Services Board (LSB) proposal to make will writing and estate administration reserved legal activities.

The LSB has announced it will ask the Lord Chancellor to agree to the plans, which would mean the two activities would be regulated, giving greater protection to consumers. The SRA, which played a part in putting together research which helped inform the proposals and responded to an LSB consultation on the issue, has called for all legal activities to be regulated.

The research carried out by the SRA and its partners last year found that one in four wills failed because they were deemed to be of insufficient quality. Some failed to meet the needs and circumstances of the client, while others were deemed not to be legally valid.

Financial Services Authority (FSA)

The FSA is contacting 76,732 members of the public to let them know they are potential targets for fraudsters. Their names appeared on a number of lists recovered from companies that the FSA believes were fraudulently selling investments in land or worthless, sometimes non-existent, shares. Combined into one list, this is the largest number of target victims that the FSA has ever contacted in one go.

General Optical Council (GOC)

The GOC has removed 195 practitioners and 26 bodies corporate from its registers for failing to apply for 2012-13 retention. 93 optometrists and 102 dispensing opticians were removed after missing the second deadline of 31 March 2012. It is now illegal for them to continue practising in the UK. Any individual or business registrants who have been removed, but who wish to continue practising, must restore to the registers immediately. Applicants must complete the restoration form and pay the restoration fee of £330. Individual practitioners must also provide evidence of having completed the required minimum of Continuing Education and Training (CET) in the past 12 months.

Bar Standards Board

The Bar Standards Board commissioned ORC International, a market research agency, to conduct research into the frequency with which underperformance is encountered in the criminal courts. The report found that over half of all respondents reported that existing levels of underperformance in criminal advocacy are having an impact on the fair and proper administration of justice, with 31% rating the impact as "very high". It was also found that three quarters of respondents stated that standards of criminal advocacy will decline in the coming years in the absence of any regulatory measures to address this concern.

General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC)

A new consultation asks for views on changes to some of the rules that set out how the GPhC has to carry out its functions as a regulator.  The proposals aim to improve the GPhC’s rules governing its statutory committees, the advisers to those committees, fitness to practise proceedings and the evidence of identity required as part of the registration process. The consultation will run for 12 weeks until 12 July 2012. The GPhC will then consider the outcomes of the consultation at its meeting in September.