General Optical Council

The General Optical Council (GOC) recently launched a consultation on draft guidance for its Fitness to Practise (FTP) Panels when faced with applications pursuant to Rule 16 of the General Optical Council (Fitness to Practise) Rules 2005. Rule 16 deals with the termination of a referral against a Registrant following consideration by an Investigating Committee (IC).

The aim of the guidance will be to support IC members when they consider such applications, which are commonly made where new evidence comes to light after the matter has been considered by the IC. Most healthcare regulators have a process to consider such applications.

The GOC has launched the consultation which will remain open for 12 weeks. The Council will review all responses before approving the final guidance at its meeting on 14 November 2013.

Nursing and Midwifery Council

The Government has agreed in principle to implement two urgent legal changes supported by the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC).

The two proposed reforms are as follows:

  • To implement a system of professional case examiners to make decisions at the investigation stage to decide if cases should proceed to a final public hearing.
  • An entirely new power to review decisions to close cases at the investigation stage.

The proposed changes are aimed at improving the NMC's public protection function by streamlining the fitness to practise process. It is hoped that the changes will promote consistency and efficacy.

The final stage of the process (a hearing by an independent panel comprising of at least one nurse or midwife, and at least one lay member, advised by a legal assessor) will remain unchanged.

The changes will take at least a year to introduce.

General Dental Council

The GDC have welcomed the decision by the High Court in the case of Ms Lorna Jamous (General Dental Council v Jamous, [2013] EWHC 1428).

The ruling confirmed that tooth whitening does in fact amount to dentistry and therefore one must be a registered dental professional in order to perform it.

Please see Case Update: General Dental Council v Jamous, [2013] EWHC 1428 for Kingsley Napley’s case summary on the High Court’s judgment.

General Medical Council

On 30 May 2013, the General Medical Council (GMC) issued a press release stating that the quality of training for doctors in London is good, but concerns exist over differences in the quality of supervision offered.

Niall Dickson, Chief Executive of the GMC, stated that it will work with NHS Trusts, senior doctors and others at a local level to ensure that standards are being met.

The report provides an insight into the experiences of 12,000 students and doctors in training.

Whilst the review process which led to the report found many examples of good practice, it also highlighted areas of concern including:

  • Some doctors in training reported difficulties in getting prompt advice from their seniors and, worryingly, some reported having to deal with clinical situations beyond their experience;
  • A degree of variation in the quality of clinical placements; and
  • The quality of patient handovers in surgery and also at night and weekends was inconsistent in some hospitals.

The GMC has stated that it will work in conjunction with Health Education England (HEE), and all those involved in delivering medical education to help make the required improvements.

The full report ‘Regional review of medical education and training in London: 2012-13’ is available online.

Bar Standards Board

The Bar Standards Board (BSB) and Bar Council have launched the Barristers’ ‘Working Lives’ survey. The independent survey will take place every two years; the last one was in 2011.

The survey will seek the views of approximately half of all practising barristers in England and Wales. It will comprise of a series of periodic studies of life as a barrister, and ask a variety of questions about barristers' professional lives as well as plans for their future careers.

Chosen participants will receive an email inviting them to complete the survey online. There will also be paper version for candidates to respond via post.

Bar Standards Board Chair, Ruth Deech said: "The Barristers' Working Lives survey provides us with an invaluable insight into the profession we regulate and helps inform the work that we do. If you are one of the barristers who have been chosen to contribute as part of a representative sample, please take the time to complete the survey."