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Health Health

Reform the system of professional regulation of healthcare professions

Last updated: 12:15pm 6 June 2019

And we will legislate to reform and rationalise the current outdated system of professional regulation of healthcare professions, based on the advice of professional regulators…

Conservative Party Manifesto 2017, p.68

Our verdict

The “system of professional regulation of healthcare professions” refers to the nine health and care regulatory bodies in the UK. The regulators have four main roles:

  • Set standards of competence and conduct
  • Check the quality of education and training
  • Maintain a searchable register
  • Investigate complaints about people on their register

This policy is a promise to “legislate reform and rationalise” the system.

In a green paper consultation document, the government made the case for change:

“The system we have today is a historical patchwork, periodically mended and amended… There is inconsistency, in both practice and legislation.”

The green paper described a regulatory system hampered by outdated procedures which has resulted in confusion for patients, a lack of transparent accountability and inefficient complaints procedures. It proposed five reform objectives:

  • improve the protection of the public
  • support the development of a flexible workforce
  • deal with concerns about performance in a more proportionate and responsive fashion
  • provide greater support to regulated professionals
  • increase the efficiency of the system

The consultation ran from 31 October 2017 until 23 January 2018. Since then, there has been no response from government and we have found no further developments towards fulfilling the pledge to legislate. Legislating for regulatory reform was not mentioned in the NHS Long Term Plan, published in January 2019.

A green paper consultation is often a preliminary step towards bringing forward legislation, so we’re rating this as ‘in progress’, but as with various other promises this may have been caught in the legislative backlog caused by Brexit (which, of course, has its own healthcare implications). We’ll be looking out for a white paper on regulatory reform, so follow this policy to keep up to date.

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