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Public & Regulatory Law Alert - March 2011

Matthew Lohn
14/03/2011

Locations

United Kingdom

Read the Fieldfisher 'Public and Regulatory Law alert - March 2011' on www.ffw.com

Case News

 


Regulatory News


Case news

SRA v Paul Davis (a Solicitor) and Elaine McGlinchey (a Solicitor) [2011] EWHC 232 (Admin)

At a hearing in November 2009, the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal ("the Tribunal") concluded that Mr Davis and Ms McGlinchey (“the respondents”) had failed to comply with undertakings, court orders, with Law Society directions, with the directions of an adjudicator within stipulated timescales, and had failed to respond to correspondence from the SRA and others. As a result, the Tribunal was satisfied that it was necessary for the protection of the public, and to maintain the reputation of the profession, that both respondents should be removed from the roll of solicitors.

The SDT also determined that, in view of both respondents' financial position (as had been the subject of some evidence during the hearing), there would be no order for costs.

The SRA appealed against the decision on costs, and in particular as to whether or not the Tribunal is entitled, when considering whether to make a costs order, to take into account the means of the respondent solicitor, and if so in what amount.

It was submitted on behalf of the SRA in this appeal, and accepted by Mitting J, that the question of whether the Tribunal should take into account an aberrant solicitor's means when determining whether or not to make an order for costs against him, and, if so, in what amount had, notwithstanding the decision in Merrick v the Law Society [2007] EWHC 2997 and as subsequently applied,  never been the subject of a properly reasoned decision.

Mitting J therefore considered the matter afresh. His judgment was that a sensible regulatory scheme can, and possibly should, require the means of an individual against whom a costs order is proposed to be investigated when that issue is determined. Provided that there is a proper scheme in place for permitting the Tribunal to determine that question, arguments of practical good sense suggest that it should be the Tribunal who should undertake the inquiry, as it has the means to do so.

Mitting J proceeded to lay down guidance in respect of different factual circumstances which might arise before the Tribunal. He considered that if a solicitor wishes to contend that he is impecunious and cannot meet an order for costs, or that its size should be confined, it will be up to him to put before the Tribunal sufficient information to persuade the Tribunal that he lacks the means to meet an order for costs in the sum at which they would otherwise arrive.

In circumstances where a solicitor admitted the disciplinary charges brought against him, and anticipated the imposition of a sanction upon him, it should be incumbent upon him to give advance notice to the SRA and to the Tribunal that he will contend either that no order for costs should be made against him, or that it should be limited in amount by reason of his own lack of means. He should also supply to the SRA and to the Tribunal, in advance of the hearing, the evidence upon which he relied to support that contention.

Where a solicitor did not admit the charges against him, Mitting J said that the issue of costs should be left until after the Tribunal has determined whether or not the charges against the solicitor are made out. In such circumstances once the Tribunal has found that the charges are proved, then the same obligations, as identified above, will be imposed upon a solicitor arguing that he cannot meet an order for costs, or that one should be limited in amount.

In either set of circumstances, the SRA should be afforded a reasonable opportunity to test the evidence relied upon by the solicitor, and in an appropriate case to call evidence itself on the question of the solicitor's means and to make submissions about the matter to the Tribunal.

In terms of the cases in which a solicitor comes upon substantial means after the Tribunal hearing, the SRA may, if it wished, invite the Tribunal to leave open the possibility of a larger order for costs being made in the future, should the solicitor come by substantial means.

In the case at hand, Mitting J stated that it seemed that no useful purpose would be served by his requiring the Tribunal to look again at their means of the respondents in the light of the guidance which he had given, and for those reasons the SRA's appeal was dismissed.

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Coventry v SRA (2011) QBD (Admin) - Blair J

In 1996, the appellant solicitor was struck off the roll by the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal ("the Tribunal"). He was re-admitted in 2005, although his practising certificates covering the following three years (i.e. until 2008) required him to obtain SRA approval of his employment.

From 2008 - 2010, the appellant's practising certificates allowed him to take employment either on a permanent or locum basis without having to obtain the SRA’s prior consent. However, the adjudicator's decision to grant the appellant a practising certificate for 2009 - 2010 was made subject to five conditions, which the adjudicator had concluded were appropriate in the public interest.

The appellant appealed on the basis that the five conditions attached to his practising certificate for 2009 - 2010 were unjust and unreasonable, and that they were based on the false premise that it was not in the public interest for him to be permitted to practise without additional restrictions. The appellant further submitted that the SRA had continued to deal with him on the basis of the past, not the current position as it was now, and that whatever test it applied, the conditions should be removed.

The SRA accepted that the test in relation to regulatory conditions had not been properly stated in the adjudicator's decision, but submitted that the conditions upon the appellant’s practising certificate were required, and so the Court should apply the proper test to the facts and dismiss the appeal.

Blair J, in allowing the appellant’s appeal, held that (as the SRA had accepted) the test in relation to regulatory conditions had not been properly stated, in that the adjudicator had not referred to the fact that regulatory conditions were not only necessary but also reasonable and proportionate in the appellant's case.

Blair J therefore held that the appellant’s case should be remitted, under the provisions of section 13 of the Solicitors Act 1974, for the proper test to be applied.

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SRA v Anthony Lawrence Clarke Dennison [2011] EWHC 291 (Admin)

The SRA appealed, pursuant to section 49 of the Solicitors Act 1974 (as amended by Section 92 (6) of the Courts and Legal Services Act 1990), against the sentence imposed on the respondent by the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal ("the Tribunal") on 20 November 2009.

On that date, the Tribunal had concluded that the respondent (who had been an equity partner in the firm of Rowe Cohen) had acted dishonestly in that he had deliberately kept his interest in Legal Report Services Limited ("LRS") secret and that he had completely failed to notify clients that he, and through him Rowe Cohen, had had an interest in the company which provided their medical reports, and that he had deliberately deceived his Partners and kept hidden his interest as he had not wanted them to share in the money that he had been making from LRS. The Tribunal found that to have been a gross breach of trust between partners and a complete failure to notify clients as was required.

However, having regard to the length of time that had passed since the matter complained of, taking into account the payment that the respondent had already made to his former partners and the fact that it was the clear view of the Tribunal that no member of the public would be at risk if the respondent remained in practice, the Tribunal determined that the appropriate penalty, in the particular circumstances, would be a substantial fine of £20,000.

The Tribunal did not consider it to be appropriate or necessary for the respondent to be struck off the Roll or suspended for any period.

The respondent was also fined £3,500 in respect of four other allegations which were found proved against him, none of which involved a finding of dishonesty.

The SRA appealed on the basis that the Tribunal approached sentencing on the wrong basis and as a result erred in law in not ordering that the respondent be struck off the roll, which was almost invariably the consequence of a finding of dishonesty, and did not consider adequately or at all whether the factors advanced by the respondent in mitigation amounted to wholly exceptional circumstances sufficient to displace the presumption. It was further submitted for the SRA that the Tribunal failed to give any or any sufficient consideration to the vital issues of maintaining the reputation of the solicitors' profession, upholding public confidence in the profession and the protection of the public and/or the public interest.

In addition, the SRA submitted that the sanction was clearly inappropriate in that a fine was excessively lenient and therefore clearly inappropriate given the respondent’s established dishonest conduct. The SRA submitted that the Tribunal had erred in taking into account the length of time that had passed since the matter complained of (when the misconduct had occurred on repeated occasions and over a substantial period of time ending only in July 2007), the payment the respondent had already made to his former partners (when the respondent had profited from his misconduct in far larger sums), and had failed to give consideration to the loss which clients of Rowe Cohen had suffered by reason of the failure to account to them for all or any of the secret profits made by the respondent. Finally, the SRA submitted that the imposition of the sanction of the fine was insufficient to meet the needs of maintaining the reputation of the solicitors' profession, upholding public confidence in the profession and protection of the public and/or the public interest which depend on the honest and honourable conduct of its members at all times.

Lloyd Jones J, in giving the leading judgment, came to the conclusion that the matters identified by the Tribunal did not make out any case for departing from the normal penalty in cases where dishonesty has been proved against a solicitor. He rejected the argument for the respondent that the long investigation and seriousness of the allegations would have been an appropriate reason for reducing the penalty.

It was his view that the imposition of a fine in this case was clearly an inappropriate penalty and that the conduct of the respondent could not reasonably be regarded as falling within the residual category of cases where the Tribunal would be justified in departing from the normal course of striking off in a case where dishonesty has been proved.

This view was based on the fact that the respondent's conduct was entirely deliberate and calculated, the conflict of interests was deliberately concealed, that the dishonest conduct involved repeated wrongdoing over a long period of time, that the respondent was motivated by financial gain and subsequently failure to disclose the wrongdoing, and the fact that he had failed to be frank with the Tribunal.

Lloyd Jones J therefore quashed the penalty imposed in respect of the LRS matter and substitute an order that the respondent be struck off the Roll of Solicitors. The Rt. Hon. Lord Justice Toulson, also sitting, agreed with this decision.

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Moneim v General Medical Council [2011] EWHC 327 (Admin) (25 February 2011)

On 27 April 2010, a General Medical Council's Fitness to Practise Panel ("the Panel") which had considered Dr Moneim's case determined that his registration should be suspended for a period of 12 months.

Dr Moneim had, before the Panel, admitted making retrospective amendments to the medical records of 32 patients. These amendments had apparently been made after Dr Moneim was sent an email by his practice partners, copied to the PCT, detailing their concerns about his clinical performance.

The Panel held that his actions in making these amendments were, in respect of the majority of patients, variously not in their best interests, not of the standard expected of a reasonably competent general practitioner and misleading. The Panel further held that the appellant acted dishonestly in amending the records of six patients (Patients 8, 10, 15, 17, 30 and 33).

Dr Moneim appealed against the finding of dishonesty made against him, and also against the sanction of suspension imposed by the Panel. His grounds of appeal were that the findings of dishonesty had been made on a different basis from that which had been put during the course of the hearing and in the Notice of Proceedings ("the first ground"); that, however the case had been put, the Panel was wrong to reach findings of dishonesty in respect of these six patient records ("the second ground"); and that the sanction of suspension and/or its length was not a sanction that the Panel could reasonably have come to if no dishonesty had been found proved and/or was excessive and disproportionate in the circumstances ("the third ground").

In relation to the first ground, which turned on procedural fairness, Dr Moneim stated that the GMC failed to make clear either before the hearing or during the proceedings before the Panel that it was its case that the Panel could infer that the amendments to patients' records made by the appellant were false in the sense that they made statements which, to the knowledge of the appellant, were untrue.

He submitted that, save in respect of three records, it was not suggested by the GMC (at least until closing submissions) that the alterations which had been made were to add details which were themselves false in the sense that they were made knowingly to record something which had not taken place

Lloyd Jones J noted that the Notice served on the appellant had expressly alleged that the alterations were made dishonestly but that in respect of the six matters with which the Court was concerned it did not elaborate or provide any further particulars of the allegation, unlike in respect of three other cases.

He stated that the key was whether the appellant and his legal advisers were given sufficient notice of the case against him so as to afford a proper opportunity to respond to it and whether they were misled by the way in which the case against the appellant was put.

Lloyd Jones J considered that as the appellant had not identified any respect (save for the ability to further cross-examine the GMC's expert, or the opportunity to obtain his own expert evidence, neither of which had caused any actual prejudice) in which the presentation of the appellant's case would or might have been different had the GMC's case on falsity been made clear from the outset, and as by the time of the closing submissions on Stage 1 of the hearing, the GMC had made clear that it did invite the Tribunal to draw inferences of falsity, and the appellant had not taken any action at that stage, the appellant did not suffer any prejudice as a result of the way in which the GMC put its case. For these reasons the appeal on grounds of procedural unfairness failed.

In relation to the appellant's second ground that the Panel was wrong to reach findings of dishonesty in respect of these six patient records, the Panel's decision that the addition of the words "as given by vap" to the records of Patient 8 was dishonest was be quashed, but that otherwise the ground was dismissed.

Taking into account the fact that all of the other findings of dishonesty were upheld and to the relationship that the allegation bore to the totality of the allegations of dishonesty, it was Lloyd Jones J's decision that it would not be appropriate to remit the matter to the Panel.

Finally, in relation to the third ground (that the sanction was excessive and disproportionate), Lloyd Jones J concluded that having  to the nature and extent of the findings of dishonest conduct in this case, he was unable to conclude that the sanction of suspension for 12 months was wrong. This ground, and the appeal, was therefore dismissed.

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Dr Wafaa Nagiub v General Medical Council [2011] EWHC 366 (Admin) (25 February 2011)

Dr Naguib appealed against the decision of the GMC's Fitness to Practise Panel ("the Panel") on 27 April 2010 that she should be suspended from the medical register for a period of 12 months on the basis that her fitness to practise was impaired by reason of misconduct, of deficient professional performance and of her health.

In 2006, the GMC received information suggesting that there were concerns about Dr Naguib's performance. The GMC duly invited her to undergo a Performance Assessment which took place in May and June 2007.

The GMC's performance assessors concluded that Dr Nagiub had an adequate knowledge base but that she was unable to apply it consistently in her work as a doctor or during the Tests of Competence. In their opinion Dr Nagiub's performance had been deficient and they considered that her work should be restricted to closely supervised posts but not as short-term locum.

On 11 October 2008, Dr Naguib reported to the GMC that she had been excluded by the Trafford Healthcare NHS Trust because of an alleged incident on 17 September 2008 at the Trafford General Hospital when, it was said, she had attempted to manipulate the broken wrist of Patient MH without any assistance, without administering any analgesia and without adhering to proper consent procedures.

In March and April 2010, Dr Naguib's case was heard by a Fitness to Practise Panel. The allegations she faced arose from the report to the GMC in 2006, the Performance assessment, as well as the incident at Trafford Hospital on 17 September 2008 and the health issues.

Dr Naguib did admit certain of the allegations as matters of fact, but she challenged the Performance Assessment, the way it was conducted and its conclusions, and the suggestion that her treatment of Patient MH was inappropriate.

The proceedings lasted some 29 days of which Dr Naguib attended all bar two, which were the days when it was anticipated that she would commence giving evidence and be cross-examined. She indicated in an email to the Panel that she was exhausted. The Panel decided to proceed notwithstanding this, the net result being that Dr Naguib did not give evidence and was not cross-examined.

The Panel found all the non-admitted allegations proved. After the announcement of its findings of fact, in accordance with GMC procedure, the Panel went on to hear evidence and submissions on the issue of impairment.

The Panel considered its decision on this issue during 22 April and announced its conclusion on 23 April, which was that Dr Naguib's fitness to practise was impaired by reason of her deficient professional performance, and by reason of misconduct. The Panel also expressed concern about the manner in which Dr Naguib had conducted herself during the hearing, in relation to witnesses, the GMC legal team, the Panel and the Legal Assessor.

In the light of the above, the Panel determined that Dr Naguib's registration should be suspended for a period of 12 months and that a Performance Assessment should be undertaken at some point prior to her returning to practice.

Dr Naguib challenged the merits of the Panel's decisions concerning the Performance Assessment, that her misconduct impaired her fitness to practise, and that the sanction of suspension was appropriate and proportionate. She stated that the Panel gave undue weight to the manner in which she conducted herself before the Panel (including inappropriate language), when considering her medical performance and professionalism as a doctor in her day to day working life, and that insufficient consideration was given by the Panel to the extreme level of stress that the Appellant was under when she represented herself before the Panel and the impact of that stress on her ability to conduct her own case."

Foskett J, in deciding the appeal, stated that his task was to see whether the Panel's evaluation of the Performance Assessment exercise was itself flawed, and he stated that he was unable to conclude that this was the case. He did not consider that he was in a position to conclude that the Panel was wrong in deciding that the performance assessment was carried out fairly and represented a legitimate means of deciding on the standard of performance of the Appellant.

In terms of the decision on misconduct, Foskett J found that there was no basis for legitimate criticism of the conclusions to which the Panel came.

Foskett J further stated that since Dr Naguib was acting as a Litigant in Person, his broader task was to see if there was any worthwhile argument that she could deploy in support of her appeal upon which she had not herself focused. In his view, it was stretching things to say that Dr Naguib's behaviour before the Panel was relevant to the issue of impairment. However, he did not consider that this rendered the whole process from that point onwards flawed, as there was ample other material to sustain the view that the Appellant's fitness to practise was impaired by the matters previously found.

In conclusion, he determined there was no basis for saying that a suspension for 12 months was wrong or disproportionate. The appeal was therefore dismissed.

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Regulatory news

CHRE welcomes government proposals for healthcare excellence

The government has published a command paper Enabling Excellence: Autonomy and Accountability for Health and Social Care Staff which sets out the future of regulation of health and social care workers and supports the change recently set out in the Health and Social Care Bill, which is currently being discussed in the House of Commons. The Bill can be viewed here.

The Bill proposes to change the name of the CHRE to the Professional Standards Authority for Health and Social Care from April 2012.

In addition to the existing functions of the CHRE, it will oversee the regulation of social care workers in England, provide assistance to the Privy Council in making appointments to the Councils of the regulatory bodies and set standards for the accreditation of voluntary registers.

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CHRE - Call for information

CHRE has also recently been asked by the Secretary of State for Health to advise on what a modern and efficient fitness to practise adjudication system would look like.

In working on this project CHRE will build on its own experience and commitment to right-touch regulation, taking account of OHPA's work to date and the views of the health professional regulators.

As part of this work, CHRE is seeking suggestions by 24 March 2011 on how fitness to practise adjudication could be improved. Further details on the call and how to participate are available here.

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FRC - Challenges of principal risks and uncertainties highlighted

The Companies Act 2006 requires directors to produce a report which sets out the principal risks and uncertainties facing their company. The Act states the purpose of the report is to inform members of the company and help them assess how the directors have performed their statutory duty to promote the success of the company. The Financial Reporting Review Panel of the FRC has expressed concern that this requirement is not being met. It has therefore published questions which they encourage board of Directors to consider when producing the report.

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FRC - Code of practice to enhance dialogue published

The FRC, having participated in the Working Group, has welcomed the Bank of England and Financial Regulation Authority's draft code of practice designed to enhance dialogue between auditors and supervisors of regulated firms.

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FRC - New guidance on bank reports for audit purposes issued

The Auditing Practices Board published a revised Practice Note 16 which concerns bank reports for auditing purposes. The revision updates the guidance to reflect the new International Standards on Auditing.

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GOC consults on Fitness to Practice Rule changes

The General Optical Council (GOC) is seeking feedback from the profession and the public on potential changes to its Fitness to Practise (FTP) rules. The Council has launched a consultation to invite new opinions on the proposed new regulations. This will close on 29 April 2011.

The proposed changes are designed to change the process of FTP, to make it fairer, to speed up the process and ensure that the rules reflect recent legal developments and current best practice. 

Current practise is for decisions to be made by an Investigation Committee comprising of nine members; the proposed change is for two individual case examiners to decide whether allegations should be referred to the FTP.

The consultation can be viewed here.

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GOsC - in process of reviewing quality of osteopathic qualifications

The General Osteopathic Council (GOsC) is in the process of reviewing its quality assurance procedures used to assess the standards of osteopathic training courses and course providers. A wide range of osteopathic educational institutions and relevant regulators have been consulted. As a result of these consultations the GOsC have determined that it is necessary for them to revise the content of the annual reports submitted by osteopathic educational institutions and to their handbook which sets out the process of quality assurance for osteopathic educational courses. Further consultations will be held with relevant bodies in order to action this.

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GPhC case law - previous regulatory body decisions are not precedents

In Shah v The General Pharmaceutical Council the appellant appealed a decision of the GPhC’s committee to remove his name from the register as that the committee had not taken into account other committees’ decisions in similar cases which created “a consistent body of jurisprudence”. It was held the Committee were wholly justified in concluding that the assistance of previous decisions was limited and the appeal was dismissed.

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GSCC - Health bill a chance to embed high standard in social work regulation

The Health and Social Care Bill’s Second Reading has prompted the General Social Care Council to urge Parliament to ensure that, despite the changes it will bring, public protection will remain at the heart of social work. The Bill contains the powers to transfer the GSCC’s function to the renamed Health and Care Professions Council and this will occur in 2012 or 2013. The GSCC has identified four key areas in a brief to MPs to be of concern in the transition. They are the consistency of Fitness to Practise proceedings and professional standards, the continued registration of student social workers and the acceptance of the Assessed and Supported Year in Employment scheme.

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HPC - Health and Social Care Bill connotations

The Health and Social Care Bill will allow the Health Professions Council, to be renamed Health and Care Professions Council, to professionalise sections of the social care workforce. They are currently actively considering this and should this occur, certain care workers, yet to be defined but who do not have a currently recognised social work qualification, will be required to register and meet minimum standards of training and conduct to continue practising and remain on the register.

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HPC launches new information about its fitness to practise processes

The HPC has launched new information about its Fitness to Practise processes, following commissioned research on the views of the public, registrants, complainants and key stakeholders.

The new information displayed on the HPC website provides ‘audience specific’ pages for those who interact with the process, containing relevant information to registrants, representatives, witnesses and complainants.

The HPC have also provided an Audio-Visual presentation on their website, which details how FTP hearings operate.

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HPC - Herbal medicine to be regulated, says Andrew Lansley

The EU Directive that was passed in 2004 is due to take effect in April 2011. This Directive will make it illegal for practitioners to supply unlicensed herbal medicines.

The Health Secretary, Andrew Lansley, said in a written ministerial statement that practitioners would be allowed to continue if they were registered with the HPC. He said that the system would work ‘by allowing us to use a derogation in the EU legislation to set up a UK scheme to permit and regulate the supply via practitioners, of unlicensed manufactured herbal medicines to meet individual patient needs’.

Neither the directive nor the plans for this regulation will affect acupuncturists or homeopaths.

The EU directive can be accessed here.

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General Teaching Council - Anonymity for accused teachers

An Education Bill will grant teachers anonymity who are accused by pupils of doing them harm. The action follows the publication of figures which show as many as a quarter of teachers have been subject to false allegations. The Bill will also give head teachers the final say on excluding children by stripping independent appeal panels of powers to reinstate permanently excluded pupils, allow “same day detentions” by removing the need for parents to be given 24 hours notice and allow teachers to punish pupils for breaches of rules committed outside of school.

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General Teaching Council - Appointment of new Chief Executive

Council members of the General Teaching Council have given unanimous support to Alan Meyrick's appointment as Chief Executive.

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General Teaching Council - Teacher regulation proposals put to the test

Education Bill proposals on the regulation of the teaching profession could fail to meet a public interest test, warns GTCE Chair Gail Mortimer.

In accordance with the plans, teacher competence would no longer be regulated nationally; the most seriously incompetent teachers would no longer be subject to potential barring from the profession or to having conditions imposed on their teaching.

Ms Mortimer has expressed serious concerns about the plans and how they could impact children, young people, the teaching profession and the public.

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SRA - LSC pushes to access successful complaint information

The Legal Services Commission has requested that the Legal Services Ombudsman allows it and other consumer bodies, such as the Crown Prosecution Service, access to ‘detailed information’ regarding successful complaints made against solicitors. Their reason is that this information is very relevant when they assess the performance of its providers.

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SRA - Third wave of relationship management pilot

Six firms have signed up to the Solicitor Regulation Authority’s relationship management pilot bringing the total to nineteen. This is in preparation for new outcome-focussed regulation which is due to begin in October 2011.

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SRA announces restructure

The SRA has announced an organisational restructure, in preparation for the introduction of outcomes-focused regulation and the licensing of Alternative Business Structures from 6 October 2011, which will be focussed around three key regulatory activities: authorisation, supervision and enforcement.

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GMC - Health Committee report on performance of doctors

The General Medical Council has welcomed the House of Commons Health Committee’s report on the performance of doctors. The GMC commented that the report rightly highlighted areas where more work is needed and it will work on changes in the revalidation process and will be supporting the newly appointed Responsible Officers, whose role will be to deal with concerns regarding a doctor’s performance. The GMC welcomed the chance to report their work directly to the Health Select Committee having previously requested this and to address the issue of currently being unable to check if doctors from the EU can speak the requisite standard of English. 

The British Medical Association has commented that it is pleased that report has taken on some of their concerns. These include more support for Responsible Officers and to improve and standardise appraisals nationally.

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GMC - New guidance for medical schools

The GMC is publishing new supplementary advice for medical schools on clinical placements and assessments, following requests from medical schools. This advice will assist medical schools in preparing their students for clinical practice in the Foundation Programme.

The new advice is primarily aimed at medical schools, trainers and others involved in medical education, and can be viewed here. It may also be of use to employers and medical students.

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GMC discusses future arrangements for education and training in England

According to the GMC, "any new arrangements for training specialist doctors and GPs must ensure that the quality of education is not compromised by the immediate demands of the service".

In relation to the Department of Health (England)’s consultation: Liberating the NHS: Developing the Healthcare Workforce, it was welcomed by the GMC as well as the proposed new duty on all NHS organisations to provide high quality training. However, it was stressed by the GMC that to make that happen there would have to be proper checks and balances within the new system, including an ‘education champion’ at local level alongside a ‘clear employer voice’.

It was also emphasised by the Council that there was a need for the new arrangements to recognise the pivotal role of the professional regulator in setting and assuring educational standards, and for there to be a clear line of accountability to the GMC from the new local skills networks.

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GMC - The Doctor of Baby P has been erased from the medical register

Dr Sabah Al-Zayyat, who admitted to failing to spot that the abused toddler Peter Connelly (‘Baby P’) had a broken back has been erased from the Medical Register following a hearing at the GMC. The GMC panel granted her request for voluntary erasure.

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NMC - response to Daily Mail article about EU trained nurses

The Daily Mail published an article suggesting that the Nursing and Midwifery Council is lowering entry requirements for EU trained nurses. The NMC has responded and has stated that the story contains a number of inaccuracies. The NMC has clarified that EU trained nurses are subject to a robust test in English in order to determine if they are granted automatic entry. Should they fail this test they may be offered a period of adaptation to improve their skills and language to the requisite standard.

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Nursing and Midwifery Council and Scottish Commission for the Regulation of Care agree new partnership

The NMC and the Scottish Commission for the Regulation of Care (SCRC) have reaffirmed their proactive approach to public safety by signing a memorandum of understanding (MoU).

The agreement between the two regulatory bodies was signed by NMC Chief Executive and Registrar, Professor Dickon Weir Hughes and the SCRC Acting Chief Executive, David Wiseman. The agreement allows the two regulatory bodies to work in partnership, sharing new information which arises in the course of their investigations into allegations against nurses, midwives and environments of care.

The agreement’s function is to safeguard the wellbeing of the public receiving health and adult social care services in Scotland, and details the areas of cooperation between the two regulatory bodies, with a specific remit for ensuring that the MoU’s ethos is embedded throughout each.

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Regulation of Healthcare professionals

The Law Commission has accepted a referral from the Department of Health to review the regulation of health and social care professionals. The aim of the Law Commission is to modernise and simplify the law to create a single 'over-arching' structure within which the regulators can work.

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