Regulatory reform

The UK government has proposed changes to the way that we and other healthcare professional regulators operate.

Independent professional regulation exists to protect the public. But the legislation and framework that underpins it haven’t kept pace with changes to the UK’s healthcare systems and society.

It’s complex, overly prescriptive and slow to adapt to change. This has hampered regulators in our efforts to protect the public and support those we regulate to deliver great care.

We welcome the UK government’s reforms. Read our response to the Department of Health and Social Care’s (DHSC) Regulating healthcare professionals, protecting the public consultation.

The benefits of regulatory reform

Regulatory reform will help us respond more quickly and flexibly to protect patients and support doctors:

  • We’ll be able to deal with complaints faster and more flexibly, reducing stress for both registrants and patients.
  • We’ll have a more streamlined registration processes, which will help the development of a more sustainable workforce for the future
  • We’ll have more powers over monitoring education and training, allowing us to better support medical professionals through their studies and at all stages of their career.

What regulatory reform means for our work

The proposed changes will affect all areas of our work and processes. They’ll allow us and other regulators to modernise how we work, enabling us to share information and data more flexibly with each other. Regulators will have a duty to work together better, to identify opportunities to streamline activity and reduce duplication.

It’s through regulatory reform that we’ll achieve the aims of our corporate strategy. It also means we’ll become a multi-profession regulator, as we’ll be able to start regulating Physician Associates (PAs) and Anesthesia Associates (AAs).

Timeline to reform

  • From March to June 2021, the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) consulted on a high-level framework for professional healthcare regulation.
  • Two further consultations now need to take place, before the new legislation can come into effect.
  1. The DHSC will first consult on the draft legislation that sets out how we will implement our new duties and powers. Following the outcome of this consultation, the new legislation will then be laid before parliament.
  2. We’ll then consult to seek views on the rules, policies and guidance needed to implement the legislation in practice.
  • Once the legislation has passed through the UK parliament and our consultation is concluded, we’ll start the process of introducing changes. Not all will come at the same time, with some needing to be phased over several years. We expect the regulation of PAs and AAs to happen no earlier than summer 2023.