General Medical Council (GMC)
A review of the application of the law concerning gross negligence manslaughter and culpable homicide to doctors has been commissioned by the GMC, and is due at the start of 2019. The GMC says “the learning from the review will support just decision making and the application of the law, procedures and processes where allegations of gross negligence manslaughter and culpable homicide have arisen. This will help make sure accountability is appropriately apportioned between healthcare systems and individual doctors.”
The GMC has also made a ‘catalogue of improvements’ to its fitness to practise processes. These changes include obtaining key information shortly after receiving a complaint to help decide whether an investigation is needed. It is hoped this process will prevent a number of cases from proceeding to a full investigation. The GMC is also increasing support available to doctors, as well as allowing an investigation to be paused if the doctor being investigated is very unwell and requires medical treatment.
Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC)
New legislation came into force on 1 April 2018 allowing advanced paramedics to prescribe medicines to patients immediately, without the need for the patient to see a GP. As of this date, paramedics who successfully undertake training in independent and supplementary prescribing will have their HCPC registration annotated to record their ability to practice as a prescriber.
The HCPC has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Healthcare Inspectorate Wales about how the two organisations will work together and share information. The MoU sets out the framework to support their joint working relationship and outlines the principles which will be adopted.
Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC)
A public consultation was launched in April with the NMC seeking views on their proposed new strategy to overhaul their approach to dealing with complaints about nurses and midwives. The consultation, Ensuring patient safety, enabling professionalism: a new strategic direction for fitness to practise, hopes to reform the fitness to practise process and encourage nurses and midwives to speak up at the earliest opportunity when things go wrong. Jackie Smith, Chief Executive and Registrar of the NMC, said:
Where nurses and midwives speak up early and learn from their mistakes we want to see fewer hearings and cases resolved much more quickly."
We want to move away from a process which is often adversarial, cumbersome and distressing to one which supports a learning culture where nurses and midwives can be open about what happened."
Our proposals aren’t about excluding anyone, rather we want to reduce the impact on all those involved whilst putting patient safety at the heart of what we do."
This isn’t a done deal, we’re eager to hear not only from professionals and employers but importantly from members of the public about our proposed new approach.”
Professional Standards Authority (PSA)
On 16 May the PSA published their ‘lessons learned’ review into the NMC’s handling of the Morecambe Bay fitness to practise cases. The review looked into the NMC’s handling of concerns about midwives’ fitness to practise at the Furness General Hospital between 2004 and 2014, and concluded that although their performance as a regulator is improving, the NMC continues to make some mistakes and must develop a “more respectful and open culture”.
The NMC welcomed the publication with Philip Graf, Chair of the NMC saying:
"We welcome this review and we will act on the lessons learned, ensuring that the views of families and patients are central to everything we do."
"We will also work closely with the PSA, the professions and other regulators to take forward the report’s important recommendations.”
Bar Standards Board (BSB)
The BSB announced details in May of how it intends to work with the profession “to make further progress in eliminating the discrimination, harassment and other unfair treatment of female barristers.” This followed from their 2016 publication, Women at the Bar, which found that women can face unfair treatment including harassment, discrimination, allocation of work, flexible working and parental leave.