New reform proposals by the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) to reform the UK’s healthcare professional regulators, have recently closed.
An open consultation on www.gov.uk/government/consultations/regulating-healthcare-professionals-protecting-the-public sought views on proposals to modernise the legislation of the healthcare professional regulators. The proposals were developed in partnership with the professional regulatory bodies, the Professional Standards Authority for Health and Social Care and tested with key stakeholders across the health and care system.
The proposed reforms cover four key areas:
- Governance and Operating Framework
- Education and Training
- Fitness to practise.
Scottish dental indemnity/insurance firm MDDUS is specifically and strongly opposes plans to remove health grounds as a defence in regulatory investigations.
MDDUS said it was ‘not appropriate’ to categorise health issues as a lack of competence.
MDDUS, represents the professional interests of more than 50,000 doctors and dentists across the UK. They said its warning was made starker by the impact of the pandemic on clinicians’ mental health and wellbeing.
Dr John Holden, chief medical officer at MDDUS, said: ‘Health cases need to be dealt with more sensitively than other cases. This is of utmost importance with cases involving mental health problems.
‘It is simply not appropriate to place health into the same ground as competency.
‘In fact, this seems a pejorative way to view matters. It’s highly problematic in terms of the way in which health issues amongst clinicians are viewed by their patients and the public.’
In a survey of its membership at the height of the second wave of COVID-19, MDDUS found that:
- More than four in 10 of all its members were more anxious than at the start of the pandemic
- Nearly half were worried that their decisions during COVID-19 will lead to a claim or complaint against them
- Amongst dentists, almost half said their stress levels had increased. Of that group, 87% said they had high levels of anxiety.
Stephen Henderson, head of dental division at MDDUS, said: ‘The mental health of our medical and dental professionals is clearly a very important live issue.
‘To categorise ‘health’ as a lack of competence would be a seriously retrograde step to take.
‘The issue is also not just about registrants. Attending to and respecting registrants’ health is also good for patients and for the retention of doctors and dentists.’