The Professional Standards Authority (“PSA”) in the UK has published details of its work carried out in 2016. Among the work carried out, the PSA reviewed 3,145 Fitness to Practise decisions of health and social care regulators in 2016 and appealed 12 decisions.

General Dental Council (“GDC”)

One appeal involved a decision by the GDC to impose conditions on a registrant’s registration for a period of 12 months, which would then be reviewed. The decision followed a complaint in relation to poor hygiene practices at a dental surgery. The PSA appealed the decision on a number of grounds, including that adequate weight had not been given to the risk posed to patients and that the conditions did not address the registrant’s dishonesty during the investigation. The PSA also argued that as the registrant did not attend the hearing, the GDC could not be confident that she would comply with the conditions. The GDC agreed with the PSA’s appeal and decided that the registrant should be struck off the register.

Health and Care Professions Council (“HCPC”)

The PSA also appealed a decision of the HCPC imposing a 12-month suspension on a registrant following a conviction for drug offences. The PSA argued that sufficient weight had not been given to the public interest and the approach taken in relation to mitigating factors was incorrect. It was also argued that there was a failure to take account of the sentence imposed and that sufficient reasons were not given for the decision. The HCPC agreed with the PSA and the registrant was struck off the register of occupational therapists.

Conclusion

The PSA states that the original decisions in the above cases were not sufficient to protect the public from future harm. The decisions are interesting for Irish regulators involved in imposing Fitness to Practise sanctions in the health and social care field. While Fitness to Practise decisions made by Irish regulators are not subject to scrutiny by a body equivalent to the PSA, many sanctions imposed are subject to confirmation by the High Court. Public safety and protection is likely to be of paramount importance to the High Court when considering sanctions. Further details can be found here.