The Government’s fitness to practise reform proposals will shut patients out almost entirely beyond their initial raising of a concern.

This is the view of Lucy Watson, Chair of the Patients Association.  Providing a patient perspective on the fitness to practise reform proposals, she said:

“Under the new three-step fitness to practise process proposed for all regulators, the aim is for as many cases as possible to be dealt with by case examiners, through agreed outcomes with registrants. While this process may well be effective in reaching outcomes more quickly for practitioners, it shuts patients out almost entirely: beyond their initial raising of a concern, the patient could play no role in the process at all.”

She said that whilst there is also a case for saying that these process improvements will also bring benefits for patients, opportunities have been missed to guarantee a role for patients in setting the standards that registrants will have to be able to meet.

“Regulation is supposed to be done in the interests of patients.”

She noted, for instance, that there are no fixed systems or structures to ensure that regulators get patients’ views on-board when setting standards for education and training.

She said the Patients Association will be calling for an obligation for regulators to engage with patients meaningfully at this stage, and making clear that the proposed requirement to keep patients informed will not suffice.

Ultimately, she noted that unless the reform proposals are more inclusive, patients might lose confidence in regulation:

“With so few rights and so little say, it’s impossible to believe that this system will enjoy patients’ confidence, or meaningfully protect them. Without changes to give patients a voice, we will be unable to support these proposals.”

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