General Medical Council (GMC)

  • The GMC has indicated that new language checks on European doctors are expected to come into force this summer. The current legislative position is that the GMC can assess overseas doctors applying to work in the UK, but not those from other countries within the European Union (EU). The changes will require doctors from other countries within the EU to provide evidence of their English skills, or undergo a language assessment, if the GMC has concerns about his or her ability to communicate effectively with patients. 
  • The GMC also announced on 4 March 2014 that, from this summer, overseas doctors undertaking a test to measure their English language skills will need to achieve a higher score than they do now (7.5 out of 9 on the English Language Testing System (IELTS) test; 7 out of 9 is currently required). This new requirement will be introduced at the same time as the new language checks on European doctors.

General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC)

  • The GPhC has outlined its position on the sale of e-cigarettes in registered pharmacies. It has emphasised that, when deciding whether an e-cigarette should be sold from a registered pharmacy, it would expect the pharmacy owner and superintendent pharmacist to exercise their professional judgement in the interests of patients and the public. In particular, they should provide advice upon the range of options available, including the risks and benefits of different products, to help them make an informed choice.

Security Industry Authority (SIA)

  • The SIA has published a revised timetable for the introduction of business licensing. At a meeting of the SIA’s Strategic Consultative Group, Home Office officials updated representatives of the security industry with its views on the likely timetable for the introduction of business licensing. In summary, the Home Office still intends to introduce business licensing, but there are not structures in place as yet to allow the introduction of business licensing to commence in April 2014; the ‘open for business’ date has therefore been postponed, with the new timetable being announced as soon as possible.  Three months’ notice will be provided for the revised ‘open for business’ date, with at least six months between the ‘open for business’ date, and the date at which business licensing will become a legal requirement. The legal requirement date remains as 6 April 2015.

Bar Standards Board (BSB)

  • The Bar Standards Board is holding a number of focus groups to establish the views of Barristers, Practice Managers and Clerks on its proposal to regulate advocacy focussed Alternative Business Structures, Legal Disciplinary Practices and Barrister Only Entitles, collectively referred to as ‘Entities’. The purpose of the focus groups is to facilitate the discussion of motivations for setting up an Entity, how soon Entities will be set up and the type of structures contemplated, along with how the BSB can best support them. 

Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA)

  • The SRA has signed up to take part in a Government scheme which should see a legal apprenticeship developed by law firms which can for the first time lead to qualification as a solicitor.
  • On 4 March, the Department for Business, Skill and Innovation launched Phase 2 of its Trailblazers Scheme, which is aimed at improving apprenticeships by using standards designed by the industry itself. 
  • It is intended that the apprenticeships will be:
    • employer led to respond to the needs of the business, to ensure the apprentice develops the correct skills;
    • focused on quality – the apprentice will need to undergo a rigorous assessment at the end of their apprenticeship;
    • graded on completion to mark the level of achievement.