MDDUS has welcomed a new consultation on reform of the regulation of healthcare professionals.
Commenting on the Department of Health’s Promoting professionalism, reforming regulation, MDDUS senior lawyer and practice development manager Joanna Jervis said: "We will be responding in detail to the consultation questions, focusing in particular on the difficulties which may be posed by a reduction in the number of healthcare regulators, as is proposed. The focus must be on ensuring that the regulatory framework is fit for purpose and retains appropriate expertise in relation to each of the very different healthcare professions subject to regulation.
"MDDUS agrees that the current regulation of healthcare professionals is outdated, slow and in need of reform. While legislative changes to the current framework are undoubtedly required, the key factors at the heart of any changes should be performance, fairness, transparency and patient safety.
"We welcome, in particular, the proposals on autonomy and greater freedom for the regulators. Reform in this area is vital to allow the regulators to function more effectively without the need to go through archaic legislative processes to achieve changes to operational practices.
"However, with great power comes great responsibility and we welcome the Department’s acknowledgment of the need for an appropriate level of parliamentary accountability and effective governance as a counter-balance to increased autonomy.
"Any extension of powers to the regulators to amend their own procedures requires proper and effective oversight and scrutiny of the regulators’ governance arrangements. We trust that any recommendations in this area will be dovetailed with the important work being carried out by the Professional Standards Authority in its Review of the Standards of Good Regulation.
"MDDUS is pleased that this consultation recognises the need for changes to the fitness to practise process to develop a more preventable and supportive approach for doctors, dentists and other healthcare professionals.
"We support steps that make the complaints and regulatory processes less stressful for our members and more transparent for patients. Early local action is key to defuse most complaints. In our experience, complaints that are dealt with quickly and efficiently are far more likely to be resolved.
"We therefore welcome measures to address this and improve efficiency, transparency and decision making in the fitness to practise process.
"MDDUS looks forward to submitting a detailed response to this consultation and working closely with the Department of Health to help them deliver a flexible, more streamlined model of professional regulation."