Racial Bias & Discrimination

Sadly, 2022 saw a continuation of regulators struggling with racial bias & discrimination.  Of note, was the recent case of doctor Dr Manjula Arora that forced the General Medical Council to apologise to her and forced to accept all the recommendations made by an independent review.

The GMC was not alone.  The General Pharmaceutical Council continued to struggle with “unconscious bias” in its fitness to practise decision-making that forced it to anonymise fitness to practise case papers to minimise unconscious bias.

Finally, research by the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) found that employers refer more men and black nursing professionals to fitness to practise compared to the make-up of the NMC’s register.

Fitness to Practise Reform

There has not been any notable progress on the Government’s plans to reform fitness to practise. 

In 2021, the Department of Health and Social Care launched an important consultation to overhaul fitness to practise in the UK.  The White Paper set out a wide-ranging set of proposals.

One development on the issue, that has been positively received all round, is confirmation that the GMC’s power to appeal fitness to practise decision will be removed in 2023.

Fitness to practise backlogs

Chronic fitness to practise case backlogs marred regulators in 2022.  This was particularly an issue for the NMC (that said clearing the backlog was a “top priority”) and the General Dental Council (GDC) that resulted in the Professional Standards Authority (PSA) writing to the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care to raise its concerns about the GDC’s “ongoing delaystaking too long to progress cases through the system.

In the courts

2022 has proven to be another important year in the courts with a number of important decisions.  An overview of some of these:

  1. A coroner has found that an email notifying a doctor of an investigation contributed to his suicide.
  2. 2022 saw an increase in the number of Interim Order extensions refused. Notably, a doctor has persuaded a Scottish Court to overturn a previous judgment granting the GMC more time to conclude their investigation and NMC v MM. The Court has been recorded saying:

“I have been sitting in this job long enough to see innumerable additional requests by the NMC to ask for extra time. It happens far too often in my view … there’s major interference with someone’s life”.

  1. The High Court re-affirmed the well established principles of not arbitrarily extending statutory appeal time limits in the case of Rakoczy v General Medical Council & Stuewe v Health and Care Professions Council.

Good Medical Practice review

In 2022, the GMC has launched a 12-week consultation on the content of Good medical practice.  The GMC said, “The draft guidance also responds to calls from doctors for greater clarity on their use of social media. A new duty makes clear that they must not use digital communications channels to mislead, and they should ‘make reasonable checks’ to avoid doing so.”

The new, updated, version will be published in 2023.

Best & Worst Performing Healthcare Regulators

How well does your regulator perform?  According to the Professional Standards Authority, and based on their last review:

  1. General Medical Council met all 18 standards of good regulation
  2. General Osteopathic Council met all 18 standards of good regulation
  3. Nursing & Midwifery Council met 17 of the 18 standards of good regulation
  4. General Chiropractic Council met 17 of the 18 standards of good regulation
  5. General Optical Council met 16 of the 18 standards of good regulation
  6. General Dental Council 16 of the 18 standards of good regulation
  7. General Pharmaceutical Council 15 of the 18 standards of good regulation
  8. Social Work England met 16 of the 18 standards of good regulation
  9. Health and Care Professions Council met 13 of the 18 standards of good regulation

The PSA’s Standard of Good Regulation sets out the expectations it expects from regulators and their approach to their work.

The Standards prioritise the core role of regulators in:

  • Protecting patients and reducing harms
  • Promoting professional standards
  • Maintaining public confidence in the professions.

Kings View Success

2022 has been another successful year for Kings View.  We are proud to have retained our excellent customer rating, with many clients commenting on the fact that they felt valued, informed and listened to.

We are pleased to have achieved great outcomes for our clients this year, including a number of successful restoration applications. 

As a leading chambers specialising in healthcare law and regulation, our barristers give high quality specialist advice and have unrivalled experience in defending and representing health and care professionals including issues with registration, allegations made against you for poor professional competence, health issues and allegations of misconduct.

Contact us today to discuss your fitness to practise issue.

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Disclaimer: This article is for guidance purposes only. Kings View Chambers accepts no responsibility or liability whatsoever for any action taken, or not taken, in relation to this article. You should seek the appropriate legal advice having regard to your own particular circumstances.