General Dental Council (GDC)

‘Standards for the Dental Team’ takes effect from 30 September 2013 replacing the GDC’s previous standards ‘Standards for Dental Professionals’.

The standards include nine key principles:

  1. Put patients’ interests first;
  2. Communicate effectively with patients;
  3. Obtain valid consent;
  4. Maintain and protect patients’ information;
  5. Have a clear and effective complaints procedure;
  6. Work with colleagues in a way that serves the interests of patients;
  7. Maintain, develop and work within your professional knowledge and skills;
  8. Raise concerns if patients are at risk;
  9. Make sure your personal behaviour maintains patients’ confidence in you and the dental profession.

New issues addressed in the ‘Standards’ include principles on communication and personal behavior, a greater emphasis on softer skills and new requirements to display indicative prices for treatment.

Following an earlier decision of the High Court that tooth whitening is a practice of dentistry, (Case Update: General Dental Council v Jamous, [2013] EWHC 1428) Ms Lorna Jamous, who on 10 May 2013 was convicted of unlawfully carrying out the business of dentistry when not registered with the GDC, received a 12 month conditional discharge and was ordered to pay £350 towards the GDC’s costs at Westminster Magistrates' Court.

Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC)

The NMC has committed to introducing a model of revalidation by the end of 2015. The Council agreed that revalidation will require a third party to confirm that the nurse or midwife who is revalidating is compliant with the revised Code. This confirmation will take account of feedback from patients, service users, carers and colleagues and take place at the point of renewal.

Jackie Smith, NMC Chief Executive and Registrar said,

“This model of revalidation will increase the public’s assurance that the nurses and midwives on our register are capable of safe and effective practice."

A consultation will follow. Early implementers will revalidate by the end of 2015.

On 12 September the NMC published updated guidance on Raising Concerns. The guidance includes information on organisations that can provide individuals with advice and support on how to take matters forward. Helene Donnelly spoke to the Council on 12 September 2012, drawing on her experience of raising concerns about care at Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust and her new work as ambassador for cultural change at Staffordshire and Stoke-On-Trent Partnership NHS Trust.

The NMC has launched a consultation on the introduction of a test of competence for overseas applicants to the UK register – those trained outside the EEA (European Economic Area). The competency tests will be undertaken by all overseas applicants to the register once they have proven that they meet the NMC registration and education requirements and will be additional to required language competence in English.

Details being consulted on for the system of competency tests include views on the principles underpinning the test and options for how the test would be structured, including theory and practical elements.

The consultation on the new competency test will run until 31 October 2013.

General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC)

The GPhC has set out the progress being made in meeting key recommendations from the Francis report on the Mid-Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust. Priorities include promoting a culture of openness in pharmacy and improving the way the GPhC uses information from different sources.

Key actions being taken by the GPhC to meet the recommendations of the Francis report are said to include promoting a culture of openness in pharmacy, improving the way they use information from different sources so that regulatory interventions can be more effectively targeted and providing clear information for patients and the public on the standards they should expect from their pharmacies.

The Council also agreed that the GPhC will need to take account of any actions arising from the Government's full response to the Francis Report, due to be published in the autumn, the Berwick Review into patient safety, the work of the Rebalancing initiative and the outcome of the Law Commissions' review of professional regulation.

Security Industry Authority (SIA)

The HMRC has seen an increased risk of fraudulent VAT repayment claims being submitted from the private security industry. A taskforce has been assembled to investigate and will focus on security companies and their employees in London and the South East. The taskforce is expected to recover £10 million.

Bar Standards Board (BSB)

The BSB have responded to the new proposals for criminal legal aid. Director of the Bar Standards Board, Dr Vanessa Davies said:

"We note that the Government has modified its proposals for the planned legal aid reforms and look forward to studying the detail. With regards to the proposed review of criminal advocacy, we are looking forward to engaging constructively with the review, with the public interest as our focus.

Price competitive tendering (PCT) for criminal defence work appears to have been removed from the proposals. There can now be absolutely no doubt, as we have always maintained, that there is no link between PCT and QASA. The Scheme will, as planned, be launched on 30 September 2013."

New training requirements for Public Access barristers will come into force later this year.

Any barrister who undertakes Public Access work without meeting the proper training requirements will be in breach of the Code of Conduct and could be subject to disciplinary action.

Additionally barristers of fewer than three years' practising experience will be able to undertake Public Access work if they complete the new training.

Solicitors Regulatory Authority (SRA)

The Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) has appointed Paul Philip, as its next Chief Executive. Mr Phillip is currently the Deputy Chief Executive and Chief Operating Officer of the General Medical Council. He has previously held senior roles in the Legal Services Commission and the NHS and was called to the Bar at Lincoln's Inn.

Solicitors’ firms will need to seek their own consumer credit licence from the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA).

The Law Society Group Licence currently allows firms regulated by the SRA to carry out certain consumer credit activities without the need to apply to the OFT. The FCA will not be continuing this licence regime.

Firms that have their own OFT consumer credit licence already will need to apply for interim permission. The application process for this began on 1 September 2013.

From 30 September, solicitors who are providing advocacy services in courts on the Midlands and Western circuits, will be able to start the Quality Assurance Scheme for Advocates (QASA) accreditation process by completing an application form and paying the appropriate fee online through the SRA’s website.