UK Improves Regulation Of Healthcare Professionals

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Measurements to improve the regulation and governance of healthcare professionals, providing greater reassurances for the public and professionals, were set out in two reports published by the Department of Health.

The Tackling Concerns Nationally and Tackling Concerns Locally reports are part of the wider Government reforms on professional regulation to raise professional standards and ensure patient safety. These two reports are the result of external working groups taking forward the implementation of the reforms announced in the White Paper - Trust, Assurance, Safety: the Regulation of Health Professionals in the 21st Century - over the last 18 months.

Tackling Concerns Nationally (TCN) makes recommendations on professional regulation and assuring patient safety at a national level. It sets out recommendations for the establishment of the Office of the Health Professions Adjudicator (OHPA) which will look at cases brought forward assessing fitness to practise for healthcare professionals.

This separate body would be independent from existing professional regulators, the Government and the healthcare profession to ensure absolute fairness and transparency. The board will initially take on cases concerning doctors and will expand to other professions. A consultation has also been launched today which sets out proposals for the principles and governance of this new body.

Tackling Concerns Locally (TCL) sets out recommendations and principles of best practice to strengthen local NHS arrangements for identifying poor performance among healthcare workers and taking effective action. Local implementation will be supported by more detailed operational guidance and by regulations which the Department of Health will introduce later this year, after consultation with interested parties.

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Health Minister, Ben Bradshaw said: "Our overriding priority is to ensure that patients and the public are protected. The recommendations outlined in Tackling Concerns Nationally and Tackling Concerns Locally will put in place the best systems, both locally and nationally, to identify and address concerns about individual professional conduct and competence.

"These reports go a long way to further ensure healthcare standards in the NHS are high, and to reassure both public and professionals that the systems and processes put the safety of patients at their heart, while being fair to staff."

Professor Jenny Simpson OBE, Chief Executive of the British Association of Medical Managers and chair of the overarching Tackling Concerns Locally working group said:

"Every patient, professional and healthcare organisation has the right to expect that robust systems are in place ensuring that colleagues delivering care are up to date and fit to practice.

"I am delighted to see the launch of this important document. It details a range of practical measures, specifically designed to bridge any gaps between structures and processes within local organisations and national -level regulatory mechanisms."

Both Tackling Concerns reports are a critical component of the Government's drive to improve NHS services, as set out in the 2008 Next Stage Review, High Quality Care for All. As part of the professional standards programme, the Department of Health is looking at how to implement the recommendations in Tackling Concerns to help deliver the high quality workforce needed to ensure the safe, respectful and effective care that patients expect.

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