Health and social care regulation out of date and too complicated, finds report

The Professional Standards Authority (PSA) said that current regulation is out of date, overcomplicated and too expensive

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The framework for regulating health and social care in the UK is not fit for future purpose, according to the Professional Standards Authority (PSA), the body which oversees the nine health and care regulators in the UK, including the General Optical Council (GOC)

In the report published on yesterday (August 6), the PSA has lambasted the current regulatory framework, calling it out of date, overcomplicated and too expensive. 

Chief executive of the PSA, Harry Cayton, said: “Piecemeal adjustments to health and care regulation have, over time, made the system cumbersome, ineffective and expensive. Every part of our health and care system is changing in order to meet future needs. If patients are to benefit, regulation must undergo radical change too.” 

A number of recommendations are made in the Rethinking Regulation report, which states that “radical change” is needed in order to ensure that regulation meets the needs of patients and healthcare professionals. Recommendations include: shared objectives between regulators; transparent benchmarking to set standards; and placing “real responsibility” on those who manage and deliver care.  

Mr Cayton added: “Regulation is asked to do too much and to do things it should not do. We need to understand that we cannot regulate risk out of healthcare and to use regulation only where we have evidence that it actually works. Ironically, the regulations that are meant to protect patients and service users are distracting professionals from this very task.”  

Responding to the report, GOC chief executive and registrar, Samantha Peters, said: “The PSA’s report raises some very important issues about the future of healthcare regulation, and we encourage others to join a wider debate on this. It is essential we properly and comprehensively consider the best ways in which to approach the future of regulation, and the PSA’s report is a welcome step forward in initiating this conversation.” 

Ms Peters added: “We have already been pushing for legislative change in the shape of the Law Commissions’ Bill and were disappointed that this was not included in the Queen’s Speech. We are keen to see changes to the current legal framework to enable us and other regulators to enhance our role in public protection, and we welcome the opportunity to debate this further.”