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Public & Regulatory Law Alert - April 2011

Matthew Lohn
14/04/2011

Locations

United Kingdom

Case News


Regulatory News


Case news

 

Hazelhurst and Ors v SRA [2011] EWHC 462

This case highlights the usefulness of Indicative Sanctions Guidance for Disciplinary/Fitness to Practise Panels.

Having considered the grounds of appeal, the High Court quashed the orders of financial penalties made by the Solicitors' Disciplinary Tribunal. Instead, the High Court imposed a reprimand in respect of each breach.

In so doing, the High Court commented: "It is of note that the SDT has not published Indicative Sanctions Guidance. Such guidance identifies the purpose, parameters and range of sanctions. It permits those who appear before it to better understand the proceedings and the thinking of the SDT. It assists the transparency of the proceedings. Such guidance has been used by other regulatory bodies for some years and is a valuable reference point both for the tribunal and for those who appear in front of it, as practitioners or advocates."

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Thaker v Solicitors Regulation Authority [2011] EWHC 660 (Admin)

Mr Thaker appealed against the decision of the Solicitors' Disciplinary Tribunal ("the Tribunal") that he be struck off the Roll of Solicitors.

The proceedings against Mr Thaker had a complex history, relating to a dispute over the allegations which were to be brought against him. In broad terms, the allegations related to a series of transactions which were said to involve theft from the Zambian State.

At the hearing in May 2010, Mr Thaker applied for an adjournment of the hearing, on the basis that the proceedings were in a state of some chaos, and he had only known for ten days which of the transactions which had passed through his client account were being relied upon by the SRA (there had recently been Judicial Review proceedings which had determined the scope of the allegations to be pursued against Mr Thaker - only twelve transactions were to be pursued).

That application was rejected, and the Tribunal duly found that all the allegations in paragraph 2 of the Re-amended Rule 4 statement ("the RAS") were proved, that Mr Thaker's conduct as set out in paragraph 2.4.5 was dishonest, and that his conduct as set out in paragraphs 2.4.1 to 2.4.4 and in paragraph 2.4.6 was grossly reckless. After hearing submissions in mitigation the Tribunal ordered that Mr Thaker be struck off the Roll of Solicitors and that he pay 90% of the costs of the proceedings before the Tribunal.

His appeal was based on four grounds. The first ground was that the Tribunal erred in failing to grant an adjournment at the start of the hearing. The second ground was that the Tribunal erred in allowing the SRA to make submissions and call evidence which went beyond the twelve relevant transactions. The third ground was that the Tribunal ought not to have found Mr Thaker guilty of any of the allegations of gross recklessness or dishonesty. The fourth ground was that the Tribunal erred in ordering Mr Thaker to pay 90% of the costs of the proceedings.

The Divisional Court (Lord Justice Jackson and Mr Justice Sweeney), in considering the appeal, found that, in relation to the first ground, at the very least the Tribunal should and would have granted a period of adjournment (had it known the true position, including all the details of the earlier Judicial Review).

In terms of the fact that the Tribunal had allowed submissions and evidence which went beyond the twelve relevant transactions, the Court found that this ground of appeal was plainly made out.

In respect of the third ground, the Court accepted that the Tribunal was put in a difficult position in respect of the gross recklessness allegations but, as there was no proper investigation or assessment of the SRA's allegations in respect of paragraphs 2.4.1 to 2.4.4, the finding of gross recklessness in respect of those matters could not stand. The finding of gross recklessness was also quashed in respect of paragraph 2.4.6.

In terms of paragraph 2.4.5 of the RAS (the dishonesty allegation), the Court found that the proceedings were not conducted in a fair manner, and the finding of dishonesty could not be allowed to stand. In the Court’s view, Mr Thaker was entitled to a re-trial on this issue in the context of proceedings which are fairly conducted.

Accordingly, it was ordered that the matter be remitted to the Tribunal for a re-hearing on such of the allegations of gross recklessness and dishonesty as the SRA wished to pursue in respect.

The Court then gave guidance as to what it would expect to see at a re-trial. It stated that in order to have an effective re-trial, the SRA must serve a properly drafted Rule 4 statement in respect of any of the twelve allegations which it wishes to pursue, setting out a summary of the facts relied upon, concisely and in chronological order.

The Court also stated that if the Rule 4 statement was to allege that Mr Thaker knew or ought to have known certain matters, the facts giving rise to that actual or constructive knowledge should also be set out. Once the Rule 4 statement has set out the primary facts asserted, it should then set out the allegations which are made on the basis of those primary facts. The Court also considered that the person who drafted the Rule 4 statement should heed the guidance given by this court in Constantinides in relation to pleading dishonesty (i.e. that alleged acts of dishonesty must be clearly identified and precisely pleaded).

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Levy v Solicitors Regulation Authority [2011] EWHC 740 (Admin)

The Mr Levy appealed against an order of the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal ("the Tribunal"), suspending him from practice for a period of nine months for breaches of the Solicitors Accounts Rules and failing to comply with conditions imposed on his practising certificate, and ordering him to pay costs of £26,000.

In terms of the appeal against the sanction of suspension, it was argued on behalf of Mr Levy that the Tribunal failed to take account of the enormous ramifications of suspension in his case, and that it misunderstood and misapplied the findings of the Tribunal in his earlier case.

In considering the appeal, the Divisional Court (Lord Justice Jackson and Mr Justice Cranston) held that it was open to the Tribunal to impose a suspension of 9 months in Mr Levy's case. In broad terms, although the Tribunal rejected dishonesty on the appellant's part, Weston v Law Society makes clear that that does not preclude the Tribunal imposing the sanction of suspension on a practitioner for breaches of the Solicitors' Accounts Rules. In the Court's view, there was no flaw in the Tribunal's approach.

In terms of costs, it was submitted that although Mr Levy was successful in defeating the allegation of dishonesty, the Tribunal gave no discount when awarding costs against him. The Court held that whether and to what extent the Tribunal should order a discount on the costs awarded to the Solicitors Regulation Authority, where one or more of its allegations is defeated, is very much a matter within its discretion.

In the Court’s view the Tribunal could not be said to be plainly wrong. It heard the evidence and decided that it was reasonable for the appellant's honesty to be investigated. Although ultimately it found that that allegation of dishonesty was not proved, it was entirely appropriate for the Tribunal, seized of all the circumstances, to decide that the appellant should bear all the costs.

For those reasons, the appeal was dismissed.

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Dr Arun Kumar Rauniar v General Medical Council [2011] EWHC 782 (Admin)

Dr Rauniar was a GP contracted to Waltham Forest PCT. He came to the attention of the GMC in 2004 as a result of a complaint from a former patient. In the course of the investigation into this complaint the GMC received a letter from the Medical Director of the PCT raising concerns about Dr Rauniar's clinical performance, serious behavioural problems and cognitive difficulties.

As a result of these concerns the GMC invited Dr Rauniar to undergo a Performance Assessment. This took place in July and August 2005, with the assessment team looking at 15 areas of the Dr Rauniar's performance as a doctor. The assessment team was of the view that Dr Rauniar’s problems were so comprehensive that he should not continue working as a doctor unless he underwent a comprehensive period of retraining and successfully completed a further performance assessment.

Dr Rauniar's substantive GMC hearing took place in November and December 2007 and in April 2008. The Panel found that his fitness to practise was impaired by reason of his deficient professional performance. The Panel then determined that, rather than impose the sanction of erasure suggested by the GMC, it was appropriate, sufficient and proportionate to impose conditions on Dr Rauniar's registration for a period of two years.

The conditions included that he must work with the Director of Postgraduate General Practice Education to formulate a Personal Development Plan, and must forward this to the GMC within three months, must meet with the Director of General Practice Postgraduate Education on a regular basis to discuss his progress, must allow information sharing with the GMC, must remain under the supervision of a remedial supervisor, must confine his medical practice to general practice posts as a GP under the supervision of a named GP Trainer, and agree to the appointment of a mentor.

The Panel considered that a period of two years would be needed for Dr Rauniar to address his retraining issues and give him sufficient time to prepare for and undergo a further performance assessment before his case was reviewed.

For various reasons, Dr Rauniar did not comply with the conditions which had been imposed. His GMC review hearing was held in April 2010 and it was submitted that the breaches of conditions were beyond his control. The Panel determined that Dr Rauniar was in breach of certain conditions, that it had seen no evidence to show that any of the specific failings identified by the GMC assessors had been properly addressed and remedied and that in all the circumstances the further GMC performance assessment could not take place.

The Panel accordingly determined that Dr Rauniar's fitness to practise was impaired by reason of his deficient professional performance, and determined that his registration should be suspended for a period of 12 months. Dr Rauniar appealed against this finding.

At the forefront of his submissions was Dr Rauniar’s criticism of the Deanery's insistence that he complete the Induction and Refresher ("IRS") course as part of his retraining. Secondly, he complained of the Deanery's failure to facilitate any other means of remedial training and of its conduct in effectively thwarting any other form of retraining. He submitted that the Deanery acted unreasonably in its refusal to facilitate or indeed to countenance an arrangement for supervision outside the IRS scheme. Thirdly, he complained that the IRS was unsuitable for his needs, as it was designed to attract GPs back into general practice who may not currently be working in general practice as well as offering a suitable induction programme to GPs qualified in the EU who wished to practise in the United Kingdom. He also complained about the use of a multiple choice question examination as a requirement of entry to the IRS.

In determining the appeal, Mr Justice Lloyd Jones stated that he was simply unable to conclude that the evidence before the Panel pointed to the unsuitability of the IRS, let alone that there was no evidence upon which the Panel could conclude that the IRS was an appropriate element of the retraining of Dr Rauniar.

In addition, Mr Justice Lloyd Jones considered that there was nothing unreasonable in the Deanery employing a multiple choice question examination as a requirement of entry to the IRS, given that it required a low standard of knowledge. He found that Dr Rauniar's mark on the test was so low (381, where the pass mark was 480) that criticisms of the marking system were academic, and that the Panel was entitled to view such a bad failure of a basic level test as a matter of grave concern.

In his appeal, Dr Rauniar also criticised the advice given by the Specialist Advisor who provided advice to the Panel. In giving judgment, Mr Justice Lloyd-Jones considered that the giving of advice on the procedures followed by the GMC in evaluating tests of doctors in the field of general practice was within the scope of the function of the Specialist Advisor. He stated that neither the advice in relation to conversion of scores nor the advice in relation to whether the MCQ examination was a suitable gateway test related directly to the question of the fitness to practise of the appellant or that of the appropriate sanctions. He was satisfied that the substance of the Specialist Advisor's answers did not extend beyond the giving of permissible advice in relation to medical issues regarding the practitioner's performance.

Mr Justice Lloyd-Jones also rejected criticisms made by Dr Rauniar of the Panel's conclusion that his suggestion that he might be allowed to practise alone under supervision after 2-4 weeks of close supervision was evidence of his failure to appreciate his need to retrain in almost every aspect of clinical practice, and that the questioning by a Panel member had implied dishonesty on his part. He also stated the Panel's criticism of Dr Rauniar's degree of personal effort during his period of conditional registration was clearly correct.

Finally, in terms of sanction, Mr Justice Lloyd-Jones stated that the appropriateness of a sanction imposed by a professional body such as the GMC's Fitness to Practise Panel is a matter particularly within the expertise of that body as explained by Laws LJ in Rashid v General Medical Council. This was even more so in this case, where the Panel's determination of an appropriate sanction turned upon its assessment of considerations of patient safety.

For those reasons, the appeal was dismissed.

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Bhatt v General Medical Council [2011] EWHC 783 (Admin)

Dr Bhatt was a GP based at the Rosehill Medical Centre in Rotherham. It was alleged that, between March and August 2007, he had sexually interfered with six female patients. In December 2008, Dr. Bhatt stood trial at Sheffield Crown Court on seven counts of sexual assault against the six complainants. He was acquitted by the jury.

However, the General Medical Council brought its own proceedings and on 12 August 2010, a Fitness to Practise Panel found allegations against Dr Bhatt, including that in respect of four of the six patients who had complained, Dr Bhatt had been sexually rather than medically motivated when he intimately examined them. As a result, the Panel directed that Dr Bhatt’s name be erased from the Medical Register.

Dr Bhatt appealed against the Panel’s finding of sexual motivation on four main grounds. Firstly, that the Panel should have acceded to an application that the charges be stayed for abuse of process, since Dr. Bhatt had been exposed to jeopardy twice, or it was unfair to try him again since the trial had exposed inconsistencies in the patients' accounts, their evidence had been contaminated, and DC Froggett, as officer in charge of the police investigation, had acted with relevant bad faith or incompetence.

Secondly, it was argued that the Panel should have acceded to an invitation to rule the admission of the evidence of A, C, D, E and F as to sexual motivation wrong and unjust, on the basis that there was bad faith or incompetence in the investigation to the extent that there had been significant breaches of the Code to the Criminal Procedure and Investigation Act 1996 which unfairly hindered Dr. Bhatt's ability to challenge the evidence against him by testing its reliability and independence.

Thirdly, Dr Bhatt maintained that the findings in respect of C, D, E and F were wrong and unsupported by the evidence (again, relying on the conduct of the police investigation, inconsistencies in account, and that contamination could not be excluded, as well as submitting that "they failed to have sufficient regard for the absence of any collateral evidence or conduct consistent with sexual motivation"). 

Fourthly, the Panel had wrongly determined that the patients' allegations were cross-admissible: though it had said in its findings that it had not needed to rely on any cross-admissibility, and had reached its findings without regard to that.

In conclusion, he argued that although the Panel would have been entitled to impose some sanction on the doctor in respect of his admitted failings in respect of explanation, consent taking, record keeping and in failing to advise or ask about chaperones, the sanction of erasure from the register was too great for these.

Mr Justice Langstaff, in considering the case, stated (in relation to the first and second grounds) that a stay for abuse of process is an exceptional course. It should, as the Legal Assessor had advised, be granted either where a doctor cannot receive a fair hearing, or where it would be unfair for the doctor to have to face a hearing. He stated that in this case, the Panel was careful in its determination to take into account the prejudice that would inevitably be caused to Dr Bhatt in facing his accusers again, and he was not persuaded that the Panel’s decision was wrong or unjust. He added that it was right to conclude that the processes within the FTPP were capable of ensuring that Dr. Bhatt had a fair hearing. In terms of the evidence of DC Froggett, Mr Justice Langstaff stated it was “clear that the members of the Panel were made well aware of the several deficiencies of D.C. Froggett's evidence, and (from my reading of their interventions from time to time during his testimony) were less than impressed with it”. He found that the evidence of the patients was admissible, and the Panel was not wrong to regard it as such.

In terms of the third ground, Mr Justice Langstaff found that the Panel came to carefully reasoned decisions in each case, viewed individually, and he could not say it was wrong to do so.

In relation to the fourth ground (cross-admissibility of evidence), Mr Justice Langstaff ruled that he could not accept that the evidence was insufficient, looking at each case on its own, to justify the findings of the Panel, and he found nothing in its conclusions which suggested that it needed to rely on cross-admissibility to find the sexual allegations proved.

As the fifth ground - sentence - was expressly predicated upon the Court concluding that the Panel was wrong to conclude as it did as to the issue of motivation, when the Court had not come to that conclusion, the ground fell away and the appeal was dismissed.

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Raza v General Medical Council [2011] EWHC 790 (Admin)

In January 2009, Dr Raza was in full time private practice, providing medical reports for use by claimants in personal injury litigation.

Patient A was referred to Dr Raza by her solicitor for preparation of the medical report in connection with a personal injury claim arising out of a road traffic accident. It was alleged that Dr Raza conducted himself in the course of the consultation in a way which was inappropriate, sexually motivated and an abuse of Dr Raza's professional position.

It was further alleged that on 19 January 2009 Dr Raza sent a text message to Patient A which was addressed to her using her first name and which asked for the best time for him to call her because, ostensibly, he wished to ask her some additional questions in relation to her accident. The GMC’s case was that this was false and that the ostensible reasons for sending the text were a pretext for making contact with Patient A and thus the sending of the text message was itself inappropriate, sexually motivated and an abuse of the doctor's professional position.

On 24 October 2010 the GMC’s Fitness to Practise Panel imposed a period of suspension of 12 months upon Dr Raza. Dr Raza appealed, challenging a limited number of factual conclusions, the conclusion of the Panel that his fitness to practise had been impaired and the decision to impose upon him a suspension of twelve months.

Considering the appeal, His Honour Judge Pelling QC rejected the challenge to the Panel's factual conclusions, save that in relation to a remark which Dr Raza made about Patient A's tattoo, he was persuaded that the Panel ought to have analysed the evidence in relation to this issue rather more critically than apparently it did and that it ought to have concluded that sexual motivation for the remark was not proved and thus the finding that it made in relation to this issue was wrong.

In terms of the Panel's approach on impairment, Dr Raza attacked these on the basis that procedurally, the reasons given were inadequate. His Honour Judge Pelling QC agreed that it was not apparent from the reasons given whether Dr Raza's submissions (that this was an entirely isolated incident, that his record was an entirely unblemished one; and there was no pattern of predatory behaviour that had been identified or established by the evidence adduced before the Panel) had been considered and rejected, or out-weighted by other factors. In addition, the Panel gave as a reason for finding current impairment that the matters complained of stemmed from Dr Raza's "underlying attitude", when the reasons given did not define what that attitude is alleged to have been and, more fundamentally, failed to explain the basis for the conclusion and how it was consistent with the points made on behalf of Dr Raza, i.e. that the incident in question was isolated and was made by a doctor with an otherwise unblemished record.

In addition, His Honour Judge Pelling QC stated that the Panel’s dismissal of Dr Raza's attempts to change his practice by using a chaperone as "to protect yourself rather than for the protection of patients” was not backed up by specific reasoning.

His Honour Judge Pelling QC concluded that, given that the Panel's finding that Dr Raza's remarks concerning Patient A's tattoo were sexually motivated was wrong, as was the approach of the Panel to the impairment issue, the decision of the Panel must be quashed. He determined that the most appropriate course would be to remit this case to the GMC for the impairment issue and the sanction issue, if applicable, to be determined on an expedited basis by a freshly constituted Fitness to Practise Panel.

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Karwal v General Medical Council (2011) EWHC 826 (Admin)

In June 2008 the GMC's Fitness to Practise Panel found three allegations of dishonesty proved against Dr Karwal, concluding she had knowingly made to a professional colleague false representations about an investment scheme so as fraudulently to reassure him that £188,000 he had been promised would be paid.

The Panel was not satisfied Dr Karwal had insight into her conduct and felt she had attitudinal problems about her involvement. It suspended her from the medical register for 12 months and directed a review which was held in December 2009 and March 2010.

In determinations dated 25 and 26 March 2010, the Panel found Dr Karwal's fitness to practise impaired and she was further suspended for 9 months from the expiry of her then current suspension. The cumulative effect of the sanctions was a suspension of some 2 years and 9 months.

Dr Karwal challenged both the finding that her fitness to practise was impaired and the sanction imposed. The appeal was based on three grounds: firstly, that the Panel had permitted, without warning or notice, the GMC to present a case of lack of insight at the review hearing; secondly, that the Panel was not on the facts entitled to find lack of insight; and thirdly, that the finding of impairment was not open to the Panel, or alternatively it was not a proper finding and/or against the weight of the evidence.

The appeal was heard by Mrs Justice Rafferty. In her judgement the position in relation to insight was clear or should have been clear at the time of the review. Dr Karwal's dishonesty and lack of insight were concerns explicit in the conclusions of the 2008 Panel, and the 2010 Panel was therefore not only entitled, but obliged, to address them. She could therefore see no reason to conclude that this complaint was made out.

In terms of the second ground (that the Panel was not on the facts entitled to find lack of insight), this finding had been based on evidence given by two psychiatrists, called by the GMC, who each said Dr Karwal had told them she had been completely cleared of any wrongdoing and in addition to their reports produced contemporaneous notes of their interviews with her. Dr Karwal in evidence denied saying she had been "cleared".

Mrs Justice Rafferty found that, in preferring the evidence of the two psychiatrists to that of the Dr Karwal (whom it described as "not reliable and credible") the Panel reached a conclusion open to it.

Finally, in terms of the finding of impairment, Mrs Justice Rafferty concluded that the Panel's findings of fact demonstrated its justifiable view that Dr Karwal had not fully appreciated the gravity of her offence, rather that she sought to minimise it and had lied about it. The Panel was therefore entitled to take account of this want of candour and continued dishonesty in reaching its conclusions on impairment.

The appeal was therefore dismissed.

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Regulatory news

Department of Health Command Paper

On 16 February 2011, the Department of Health (DOH) published the Command Paper, Enabling Excellence: Autonomy and Accountability for Health and Social Care Staff, in which it set out its vision in respect of the future of health and social care regulation. Here is a summary of some of the key points raised in the Paper.

 


Bar Council - New Guidance Issued

The Professional Practice Committee guidance on the Provision of Services Regulations 2009 has been sent to all Heads of Chambers, and is available on the Bar Council website. The guidance is intended to help barristers comply with obligations laid out in the Directive 2006/123 on services in the Internal Market, implemented in the UK via the Regulations which came in force 28 December 2009. The guidance can be reviewed by clicking here.

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Bar Standards Board - New timetable for the introduction of the Aptitude Test

The Bar  Standards Board (BSB) has issued a new timetable for the introduction of an Aptitude Test for the Bar Professional Training Course (BPTC). Over 1,900 students have taken part in a pilot of the BPTC Aptitude Test so far, but it will not be possible to introduce the test to students this autumn, due to the lengthy approval process. The aim of the test is to ensure that those who undertake the BPTC have the required skills to succeed and helping to ensure that those without do not needlessly spend up to £15,750 on the course.

 


Bar Standards Board - Clerks lobby for their profession to be regulated

The Institute of Barristers' Clerks (IBC) is lobbying the BSB to start regulating the work clerks do, as it strives to have the job recognised as a profession in its own right. The IBC wants clerks to be recognised for the professional contribution they make to chambers.

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Care Quality Commission -  New voluntary scheme to be launched, following consultation

The Care Quality Commission has announced plans to develop a new scheme to recognise excellence in adult social care. The voluntary scheme is set to be launched in April 2012 and will be CQC-owned, but delivered by other organisations under license. A consultation will be launched in May 2011, on how to define excellence in adult social care. The scheme will be voluntary, not mandatory and the results will be published (from April 2012) on the CQC's website alongside its own reports on whether or not a service is meeting the essential standards.

 


Care Quality Commission - Publishes guides for service users

The CQC has published two guides for people who receive care either in a care home or in their own home. Both booklets provide information on changes to the way care is regulated in England. Services are now required to meet new standards of care aiming to protect safety and to respect dignity and rights. They also provide information on what to do when making a complaint. The booklets can be accessed from the Commission’s website, by clicking here.

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DOH - New guidance to improve care for vulnerable patients

The Department of Health has issued four new sets of guidance to improve the care of vulnerable people in NHS funded care. The documents remind staff across the health service of the importance of personalised care and dignity, offering practical advice on how to deliver this. The documents are titled as follows:

  • Safeguarding adults: The role of health service practitioners;
  • Safeguarding adults: The role of health service managers and their boards;
  • Safeguarding adults: The role of NHS Commissioners; and
  • Safeguarding Adults: Self-assessment and assurance framework for health care services

The documents can be accessed be clicking here.

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FRC - Publishes feedback on the role of auditors

The Financial Services Authority (FSA) and Financial Reporting Council (FRC) have published feedback on the role of auditors.

The joint discussion paper examined several key areas, including: promoting dialogue and information sharing between auditors and supervisors, the application of professional scepticism by auditors and the scope of auditor reporting. The feedback statement addresses each of these in light of the comments received and sets out the FSA’s and FRC’s responses. The statement can be viewed here.

 


FRC - New Appointment

The Financial Reporting Council has appointed Philip Taylor to the Accountancy and Actuarial Disciplinary Board and Olivia Dickson to the Board for Actuarial Standards.

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GDC - Successful tooth whitening prosecution

In the first case of its' kind, the General Dental Council have successfully prosecuted a non-registrant for performing tooth whitening in the UK. The GDC regards the performing of tooth whitening services as an act of dentistry and are seeking to prosecute those who offer this treatment, without the appropriate qualifications. Mr Paul Hill pleased guilty to four offences, including practicing dentistry whilst not registered to do so and was ordered to pay a fine, and costs. Chief Executive and Registrar of the GDC, Evlynne Gilvarry said: "This case has significant implications for the dental profession and for public protection. The General Dental Council will now consider its position carefully with regards to the hundreds of other complaints about the illegal practice of dentistry that it has received. We are concerned about the risk to the public posed by such potentially hazardous treatment being provided by people without the training and qualifications necessary for registration as a dental professional."

 


 

General - Commission on a UK Bill of Rights launched

An independent Commission is to investigate the creation of a UK Bill of Rights that incorporates and builds on all our obligations under the European Convention on Human Rights, ensures that these rights continue to be enshrined in UK law, and protects and extend our liberties. It will examine the operation and implementation of these obligations, and consider ways to promote a better understanding of the true scope of these obligations and liberties.

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GMC - Consultation on new tribunal service

The GMC is seeking views on plans to establish the Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service, which would take responsibility for running hearings and for the decisions panels make. The aim is for the new Tribunal Service to be separate from the GMC’s work in investigating cases and presenting them to the Tribunal. The Consultation follows the Government's decision not to proceed with the establishment of the Office of the Health Professions Adjudicator (OHPA).

 


GMC - New publication setting out standards for foundation and speciality

A new publication, 'The Trainee Doctor' has been launched by the GMC, setting out the standards for foundation and speciality, including GP training for doctors. The document brings together the standards for all stages of postgraduate training that the GMC expects to be met.

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GOsC - Calls for new measures to promote patient safety

The GOsC is calling for a number of measures to promote patient safety, namely: wider regulation of osteopathy across the EU, mandatory use of the Internal Market Information System, implementation of an alert system and testing language competency as part of the registration process. The GOsC’s full response can be found here.

 


 

HFEA - New fertility technique to be assessed

The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) have been asked to assess a controversial "three-parent IVF" technique, whereby human genetic material is transferred between two fertilised eggs. This technique could offer couples at risk of passing on serious inherited disorders a way to have a healthy child. The HFEA panel is set to submit its report to the government next month.

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Human Tissue Authority - To set EU transplant standards

The Human Tissue Authority (HTA) has been selected as the body that will set standards for the quality and safety of transplant organs across the EU. The HTA will take the lead on developing a regulatory framework and implementation into legislation by August 2012. This will be the first regulatory framework developed for the donation and transplant of organs, and it is hoped that this will facilitate high quality and safe standards for the donation, procurement, transportation, traceability and follow-up of donated organs for transplant across the EU.

 


Legal Services Board - Report into Quality Assurance for Advocates delivery

The LSB has released a report commissioned from Human Assets into issues concerned with the delivery of the Quality Assurance for Advocates scheme. The project is designed to strengthen regulatory safeguards by ensuring minimum quality standards in some areas of the market. Human Assets' report has a major focus on the robustness of assessment methods, including how they relate to complex specialisms and how they might be evaluated. The report also looks at how quality assurance might link into the wider framework for the education and training of lawyers. The report can be viewed by clicking here.

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Legal Services Board - Publishes results of Review of Complaints Handling

The LSB has published the results of its review into the progress made by approved regulators in ensuring first-tier (lawyers' own) complaints-handling arrangements are fit for purpose. The report identifies a number of issues. Its findings show that good progress has been made in bringing approved regulators' arrangements into compliance with the Legal Services Act 2007, but there are concerns about capacity for data collection and their ability learn from complaints patterns as well as assessment methodologies.

 


Legal Services Board - Reviews maximum ABS fines

The LSB has decided that the maximum fine for misdemeanours by Alternative Business Structures will be £250 million, rather than the £150 million originally proposed. The LSB have said that 'the maximum penalty must be a sufficient deterrent to non-compliance and that in setting the level of a penalty a licensing authority must have sufficient flexibility to eliminate financial gain from non-compliance, yet impose a proportionate amount.'

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NMC - Joins forces with the Health & Social Services Department of the States of Jersey

The Nursing & Midwifery Council (NMC) and the Health and Social Services Department of the States of Jersey (HSSD) have reaffirmed their proactive approach to public safety by signing a memorandum of understanding (MoU). The MoU sets out the framework for a working partnership between HSSD and the NMC to safeguard individuals receiving health and adult social care services in Jersey. The MoU can be viewed in full here.

 


NMC - Signs Memorandum of Understanding with Scottish Commission for the Regulation of Care

A new Memorandum of Understanding between the NMC and the Scottish health and social care regulator will aim to help protect patients from substandard nursing care. It formalises the organisations' commitment to working together and sharing information about serious failings in nursing care. It will help to ensure that concerns about the conduct of individual nurses and midwives and nursing leadership are always passed on to the NMC. This document can be viewed in full by clicking here.

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NMC - Issues guidance to Registrants providing Botox®

Registrants of the NMC who prescribe or administer Botox® have been issued with guidance, entitled 'Remote prescribing and injectable cosmetic medicinal products'. This advice can be viewed on the NMC's website by clicking here.

 


SRA - What consumers really want

New research has revealed consumers' views on standards in the legal profession. Easy-to-understand fees and a solicitor who remembers their names are what clients would like to see as standard, while "hidden extras" are certain to cause complaints.

Most consumers have a high level of trust in the legal profession, but many are unaware about how to complain if something goes wrong. Word of mouth recommendations play a key role in consumers choosing a solicitor, but consumer knowledge of the legal market was found to be low. Copies of the research summaries can be found here.

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