Headlines: March 23rd, 2009

Two new reports have set out proposals to improve the regulation and governance of healthcare professionals.

The ‘Tackling Concerns Nationally’ (TCN) and ‘Tackling Concerns Locally’ (TCL) reports are part of wider Government reforms to raise standards and ensure patient safety. They are the result of an eighteen month project by working groups set up to work on changes announced in the White Paper – Trust, Assurance, Safety: the Regulation of Health Professionals in the 21st Century.

TCN makes recommendations on professional regulation and assuring patient safety at a national level. It recommends the establishment of the Office of the Health Professions Adjudicator (OHPA) to look at cases assessing fitness to practise for healthcare professionals. Exactly how such an office would operate is to be subject of further consultation.

The national report has looked how the new body will work with existing regulating bodies such as the General Medical Council (GMC) and the General Optical Council. It is proposed that bodies like GMC will continue to investigate complaints and decide whether to refer the matter to a ‘fitness to practise’ panel run by the new OHPA.

TCL sets out recommendations and best practice to strengthen local NHS arrangements for identifying and taking action on poor performance among healthcare workers. There will be also be consultation before guidance by the Department of Health later this year on exactly how this will work.

The British Association of Medical Managers has welcomed the two documents for being designed to bridge gaps between structures and processes within local organisations and at national level.

Both reports are part of the Government’s response to Lord Darzi’s Next Stage Review of the NHS.