Health care regulators - general

In October 2012, several health care regulators, including the GMC, the GDC, the GPC, the HCPC and the NMC, together with professional bodies and trade unions, have committed to “The Speaking Up Charter”. The Charter sets out a commitment to work together more effectively to provide high quality and safe care. It aims to develop a culture where people feel they can raise concerns about safety issues.

GMC

In October 2012 the GMC recorded in a report, ‘The state of medical education and practice in the UK 2012’, that 23% more complaints were made about doctors in 2011 than in 2010, leading to 1 in 64 doctors being investigated by the GMC. The main issues complained about by patients related to clinical care and relationships with patients, including communication, respect for patients and consideration for their family and carers.

As a consequence the GMC are now considering the significant barriers and enablers to good practice. They have considered feedback from many doctors, who commented on the report and are calling for doctors to comment on whether the issues raised affect the quality of their own practice.

The GMC is also calling for anyone with an interest in the future shape of postgraduate medical education and training to provide written evidence on the following key issues by 8 February 2013:

  • the balance of the medical workforce
  • flexibility of training
  • the needs of the health service
  • the needs of patients
  • the breadth and scope of training.

This evidence will be used to assist with the Shape of Training review led by Professor David Greenaway, Vice-Chancellor of Nottingham University. The Shape of Training review is an independent review to look at what sort of doctors we will need in the future and the training needed to develop them with a focus on post-graduate medical education and training. Its purpose is to ensure doctors are trained to provide high quality and safe care to meet the needs of patients now and in the future.

GDC

The GDC is urging dental professionals in the UK to give their views on its proposed new ‘GDC Standards of Conduct, Performance and Ethics’. This consultation process will run until the end of December 2012. The standards are concerned with patient expectations when visiting dental professionals and set out clear requirements and guidance, including providing costs information as to treatment in reception and waiting areas, managing staff and advising if they are subject to criminal proceedings.

Solicitors Regulation Authority

On 31 October 2012 the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) launched its consultation on Co-operation Agreements and has published the associated Whistleblowers Charter. They invite any views on co-operation agreements before 23 January 2013.

The co-operation agreements would allow persons who report others’ misconduct and assist with investigations, to agree on a lesser sanction in relation to their own misconduct. The Whistleblowers Charter concerns the SRA’s approach to receiving information about serious regulatory failures from regulated solicitors and the community.

The Bar Council

On 13 November 2012 the Bar Council published the second edition of the Bar Barometer, an annual report on statistical trends within the Bar. Key facts presented in the report included a figure of 15,581 barristers who hold practising certificates in England and Wales. 81.3% of these are reported to be self-employed while 18.7% are reported to be employed. The profession has grown steadily over the last five years with a 0.9% increase from 2010 and 2011.

*All information correct at time of press and can be accessed on each of the individual regulator’s websites