MDDUS has responded to the recent Department of Health and Social Care consultation Promoting professionalism, reforming regulation, which canvasses views on amalgamation of the nine existing regulators to form three or four new regulators.
MDDUS senior lawyer and practice development manager Joanna Jervis said: "We believe a single statute and common standards are more important than institutional change. We urge the Department to think realistically and pragmatically about what it can achieve, particularly given the constraints on available legislative time in this Parliament.
"It is disappointing that the good work of the Joint Law Commissions on these very issues has effectively sat on a shelf for the last three and a half years, despite Government support at the time and acknowledgement in the consultation paper that there has been no change in their position.
"We therefore ask the Government to move immediately to introduce the Draft Regulation of Health and Social Care Professions Etc. Bill which accompanied the Law Commissions’ joint report in April 2014.
"This would result in greater consistency and achieve many of the Department’s aims as set out in the consultation document. This could then be followed up with any restructuring of the regulators deemed necessary after the consultation process has reached a conclusion.
"MDDUS welcomes the proposals on autonomy and greater freedom for regulators to set their own fitness to practise processes, subject to more effective accountability and the requirement to consult in relation to substantive rule changes. This is the best way to achieve early benefit and gains in public and professional confidence in the regulators.
"As part and parcel of this, we fully support consensual disposal where appropriate as a means of avoiding protracted, costly fitness to practise proceedings which can be disproportionately burdensome both for registrants and for complainants. The power for regulators to achieve this should be made absolutely explicit.
"We do, however, have concerns about the notion of mediation in the fitness to practise process as it would constitute a misunderstanding of the regulator’s role and an inappropriate distortion of their remit.
"We look forward to working closely with the Department of Health to help them deliver a flexible, more streamlined model of professional regulation. Needless to say, we will continue to work to represent our members’ interests wherever they are regulated."