Action against Medical Accidents (AVMA), the charity for patient safety, said the DHSC’s fitness to practise reforms is “a missed opportunity” and would leave the public with less protection from health professionals who may not be fit to practise than now.
AvMA said that, whilst it supported that reform proposals, “there are serious gaps in the proposals which would mean that the public are less well protected from health professionals who may not be fit to practise than now.”
In particular, AvMA noted that:
- Whilst allowing regulators to operate an ‘accepted outcomes’ process for dealing with concerns about professionals as an alternative to fitness to practise panel hearings is potentially better for everyone, there are not enough protections built into the proposals as they stand. For example the Professional Standards Authority (PSA) will not have the power to challenge decisions made as part of this process.
- People who raise concerns are not given any rights under the proposals to appeal decisions not to investigate or ‘accepted outcomes’ decisions. They may request a review by the regulator, but the regulator is not put under any requirement to review its original decision and there is no right of appeal if the regulator does not change its original decision.
- In spite of previous reviews of health professional regulation recommending that independent advice be provided for members of the public considering raising fitness to practice concerns and those in the process of raising concerns, there is no mention of this in the proposals.
AvMA chief executive Peter Walsh said:
“We have waited a long time for reform of health professional regulation, but this risks being missed opportunity to bring about the changes that are really necessary to protect the public. It would perpetuate the situation where regulators are generally a rule to themselves. The PSA needs more not less powers to challenge regulators’ decisions. Patients and the public need to be empowered through specialist independent advice and having a right of appeal to the PSA over decisions that could leave the public at risk.”