The Professional Standards Authority has published a study of the actions taken by healthcare regulators in the first phase of the pandemic.

The report, which identifies early lessons from the initial phase of the pandemic up to July 2020, highlights new ways of working introduced by the regulators, such as online fitness to practise hearings and the use of websites to publish guidance on how professional standards apply in these unprecedented circumstances.

The report also identifies where there is potential for changes made to become standard practice, while also identifying where further planning, research and discussion will be needed. Two of the 28 case studies included in the report are from the GOsC. One of which looked at how the patient voice can be heard even when regulators are having to respond in a crisis.

Fitness to practise

The report’s case studies focussing on fitness to practise include:

  • GMC: Temporary emergency registration implementation
  • NMC: Developing and implementing the NMC’s temporary register
  • PSNI: Temporary register implementation
  • GPhC: Establishment of provisional registration
  • HCPC: Registration maintaining ‘business as usual’
  • Social Work England: Fee instalment delay
  • PSNI: Decision to delay CPD submission date
  • Social Work England: New fitness to practise referrals
  • HCPC: Case progression plan
  • GDC: The GDC’s development of virtual hearings
  • GOC: Virtual hearings at the GOC

Commenting on the new report, Chief Executive Alan Clamp said:

“Our report identifies early lessons from the initial emergency phase of the pandemic.

“The regulators we oversee rapidly changed the way they do their work to help control the spread of infection, support and guide registrants and students, contribute to an increased workforce, and keep the show on the road.

“There are many examples of positive innovations but the challenge now is to ensure that they do not diminish public protection or patients’ voices. We must also seek to understand better the pandemic’s unequal impacts, and how regulation can contribute to greater equality in future.”

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