Annual report 2020

How we keep patients safe

Keeping patients safe and protecting public confidence in doctors are at the core of all our work.

  • We manage the UK medical register – We check every doctor's identity and qualifications before they are able to join the register. And we check with medical schools or previous employers to find out if they have any concerns about a doctor’s ability to practise safely.
  • We set the standards for doctors – Our standards define what makes a good doctor by setting out the professional values, knowledge, skills and behaviours required of all doctors working in the UK. When we develop our standards and our guidance, we consult with a wide range of people, including patients, the public, doctors, employers and educators.
  • We oversee all stages of medical education and training – We make sure doctors get the education and training they need to deliver high-quality care throughout their careers, setting out what outcomes are needed for graduates and approving curricula for postgraduate education. We set educational standards across the UK and monitor training environments to enable safe and effective learning.
  • We help to maintain and improve standards through revalidation – It's important that every licensed doctor in the UK keeps their knowledge and skills up to date. Revalidation makes sure this happens and is a fundamental part of clinical governance for doctors. It gives patients and the public assurance that doctors in the UK are part of a governed system, which checks their fitness to practise on a regular basis and supports their continuous improvement and development. It also supports the identification and management of concerns at an early stage.
  • We investigate and act on concerns that put patients, or public confidence in doctors, at risk – When we receive a concern, we assess whether it meets our threshold for investigation. If it does, we investigate. At the end of the investigation, we decide what action we need to take. This can include taking no action, issuing advice or a warning to the doctor, or agreeing with the doctor that they will restrict their practice, retrain or work under supervision. In some situations, we refer the case to the Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service (MPTS) for a hearing.

The MPTS produces a separate report to Parliament. You can read the latest MPTS report to Parliament on their website.

Our performance review

Every year, the Professional Standards Authority assesses our performance as a regulator across our four core functions: education and training, registration, guidance and standards, and fitness to practise.

Its latest annual assessment confirmed that we successfully met all 24 of its Standards of Good Regulation in 2019/20. This means that we’re performing to a high standard as a regulator. And it reflects the commitment we make in all our work to standards, such as:

  • transparency
  • public protection
  • equality, diversity and inclusion
  • timeliness.