Bar Standards Board (BSB)

Financial Reporting Council (FRC)

General Dental Council (GDC)

  • On 1 November 2016, a series of improvements to the GDC’s fitness to practise process were introduced. Case Examiners will now carry out the decision making functions currently performed by the Investigating Committee. They will have the power to agree undertakings with practitioners in relevant cases. The Case Examiners will assess the evidence and determine the most appropriate outcome. In cases where there is a realistic prospect of impairment, they will refer the case to the relevant Practice Committee. A change in the law also allows for the Case Examiners to refer a practitioner to an Interim Orders Committee at any point during the investigation.
  • From 10 October 2016, all postal address details will be removed from the online register of dental professionals. The online register will now contain the registration status of the dental professional, the registration number and qualifications.
  • A review of the GDC by the Professional Standards Authority (PSA) has demonstrated a significant improvement against the Standards of Good Regulation. In its 2016 annual review of the GDC the PSA found that it was meeting 21 of the 24 standards, up from the 15 they met in the 2015 review. Commenting on the report the Chief Executive of the GDC said: “if the system of dental regulation is really going to protect patients effectively, be fair to registrants and be cost effective we know that it needs fundamental reform… We can’t count on or wait for legislation to do it all for us… we will be shortly outlining proposals which will set out in detail the further improvements we want to make through our programme of regulatory reform…”

General Medical Council (GMC)

  • The GMC has raised concerns that a ‘state of unease’ exists within the medical profession as services throughout the UK come under increased pressure. The warning that healthcare systems and the health professionals working within them are struggling to cope with a range of issues – including the impact of health services under pressure and fragile social care services, appears in its annual report on The state of medical education and practice in the UK. The report makes clear that the GMC has a role to play in addressing the issues by making regulation as ‘light touch as possible’, reassuring trainees that they are valued doctors and addressing the anger and frustration which has built up during the ongoing dispute in England between the BMA’s Junior Doctors’ Committee and the Government.

General Osteopathic Council (GOsC)

General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC)

  • A new law came into force on 21 November 2016 requiring pharmacy professionals to provide evidence that they have the necessary English language skills to practise safely and effectively before they join the Register. The GPhC will also have the power to investigate fitness to practise concerns in cases where a practitioner’s limitations in English language skills pose a serious risk to patient safety.
  • In September 2016, the GPhC opened a consultation to change the continuing professional development (CPD) framework that would give the regulator more flexibility in requesting CPD records from registrants. The consultation closed on 31 October 2016, and it was proposed that instead of calling for CPD records of all registrants every five years, they would select a small sample of pharmacy professionals on an annual basis for review.

Health and Social Care Professions Council (HCPC)

  • On 14 November 2016 the HCPC published their annual fitness to practise report. Reflecting on the year 1 April 2015 to 31 March 2016, the HCPC note a 3.3% increase in its register, with a 1.98% reduction in fitness to practise concerns received. The HCPC statistics show that the majority of concerns it receives are from members of the public who constitute 43% of the group, with employers forming 25% and 21% of concerns arising from self-referring registrants.
  • At the beginning of October 2016 the HCPC and NHS Scotland Counter Fraud Services signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to assist joint working when carrying out investigations which will undoubtedly assist with the expeditious progression of cases
  • On 3 October 2016 HCPC launched a consultation on revising their guidance confidentiality, Continuing Professional Development and social media for registrants. These consultations will close on 13 January 2017

Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC)

  • On 25 October 2016 the NMC launched a consultation into proposed changes to fitness to practise processes. The NMC say the proposals are designed to make the regulator more efficient and effective and will allow case examiners to issue warnings and recommend undertakings. The NMC is also seeking views on its approach to reviewing decisions where there has been a finding of no case to answer. The consultation is open until 19 December 2016

Solicitors Regulatory Authority (SRA)

  • The SRA has published initial ideas for improving the information available about law firms and solicitors, which could help consumers, make more informed choices and result in a more competitive legal sector. It suggests that consumers could benefit from information such as a solicitor’s qualifications or practice restrictions, complaints data and insurance claims. The SRA also considers what information law firms might want to publish voluntarily, such as quality marks and service prices. The SRA plans to consult on proposals in this area next year.
  • The SRA has launched its latest consultation on a new single assessment for would be solicitors – the Solicitors Qualifying Examination (SQE). It proposes a substantial, rigorous set of assessments, covering knowledge of the law and legal processes, legal thinking, drafting, writing, presenting, negotiating, arguing a case and analysing claims and transactions. Under the proposed new system, candidates would be required to have a substantial period of workplace training. Intending solicitors would also be required to have a degree or equivalent qualification.