The White Paper proposes “far-reaching” changes to reform the NHS and social care including proposals to join up services, cutting bureaucracy, increasing local control of services and increasing focus on prevention of illness and reducing health inequalities.

Also included in the proposals are plans to reform health and care professional regulation.  The White Paper identifies the need for reform of health and care professional regulation stating that

“The UK model of professional regulation for healthcare professionals has become increasingly rigid, complex and needs to change to better protect patients, support the provision of health services, and help the workforce better meet current and future challenges.”

Included in the proposals are:

  • The power to remove a profession from regulation – “a provision to enable the removal of a profession from statutory regulation through secondary legislation will make it easier to ensure that the protections and regulatory barriers that are in place remain proportionate for all health and care professions.”
  • The power to abolish an individual health and care professional regulator – “there is inevitable duplication in having 9 regulatory bodies (10 including Social Work England) performing similar functions in relation to different professions. A reduction in the number of regulators would deliver public protection in a more consistent way, while also delivering financial and efficiency savings.”
  • The power to remove restrictions regarding the power to delegate functions – “regulators are currently restricted from delegating to another body some of their core functions. This includes the keeping of a register of persons permitted to practise; determining standards of education and training for admission to practise; giving advice about standards of conduct and performance; and administering procedures relating to misconduct and unfitness to practise. The removal of these restrictions would enable a single regulator to take on the role of providing a function across some or all regulators.”
  • Clarifying the scope of professions subject to regulation to include senior NHS managers and leaders and other groups of workers – proposals to create a statutorily regulator for senior NHS managers and leaders.

In relation to the proposals above, the White Paper states:

“The proposed powers will make it easier to ensure that professions protected in law are the right ones and that the level of regulatory oversight is proportionate to the risks to the public, now and in the future. This is not about deregulation – we expect the vast majority of professionals such as doctors, nurses, dentists and paramedics will always be subject to statutory regulation. But this recognises that over time and with changing technology the risk profile of a given profession may change and while regulation may be necessary now to protect the public, this may not be the case in the future.”

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