Experts calling for “radical” changes to the regulation of NHS workers have asked the Department of Health to consider whether managers could be covered by the proposals.
Safeguards proposed by the extending professional regulation working group include locally agreed standards, a licensing regime, self regulation, and a “buyer beware” public information campaign.
The report follows the next stage review’s conclusion that, while statutory regulation for senior NHS managers and leaders would be inappropriate, better safeguards may be needed.
Group chair Moira Livingston said: “The management professional group is a key group to ensuring patient safety in healthcare services. The question [in] considering the regulation of managers is do we need similar models for different levels of management?”
The report, Extending Professional and Occupational Regulation, was carried out in light of the 2007 white paper, Trust, Assurance and Safety: the regulation of health professionals in the 21st century, which highlighted the need to review the scope of professional regulation.
Health professions lobbying to be regulated include counsellors, assistant practitioners and ambulance technicians.
Voluntary self regulation is presented in the report as an option for some professional groups, possibly requiring minimum standards of governance or timescales for investigating complaints.
A “buyer beware” approach is also set out as a form of light touch regulation, whereby guidance would be published to help patients make informed decisions about their treatment. Some groups, including healthcare support workers, might be better regulated using codes of practice based on risk assessments carried out by employers, it says.
A statutory licensing regime would suit lower risk groups, the working group concluded, involving uniform training standards and qualifications and a central registration list.
The changed regulatory landscape represented a “radical change” to how decisions about extending regulation should be made, the report states.
NHS Employers welcomed the working group’s emphasis on employer involvement and said it was too early to comment on whether managers should be regulated.