Regulatory approaches to standards

What were the key findings?

  • There’s no clear case for us to question our principles-based model. Regulators with rules-based and threshold approaches tend to be moving away from them, and principle-based approaches are felt to encourage independent professional judgement
  • Multi-professional regulators often have an overarching set of expectations in relation to values/behaviours for all registrants, with profession-specific guidance where needed
  • There’s potential for us to explore giving different ‘weight’ to different types of guidance (i.e. a clearer distinction between standards and guidance)
  • There were also many differences between the regulators, and this was often determined by the relationship between the regulatory body, the law and the profession that they covered. While many have a ‘good medical practice’ style set of standards, this was not always the case, and the weight of the guidance and standards often varied between regulators
  • Multiple different methods of dissemination were also used, often dependant on the country size, the number of registrants, and the style of the standards.

Why did we commission this research?

We wanted to create an evidence base to support the ‘Good Medical Practice’ review in 2021 by looking at how other regulators in the UK and internationally approach standards, and the perceived strengths, challenges and impacts of their models.

It focused on:

  • How the regulators approach the development and review process of standards
  • The use of standards and guidance in education, training and disciplinary proceedings
  • Approaches to setting standards for multiple professions, engagement and dissemination
  • Usage and awareness of standards.

What did the research involve?

The research used a mixed method approach which included initial desk research, a qualitative survey to gather high level information from the ten regulators, followed by in-depth telephone interviews with 10 different regulators.

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Regulatory approaches to standards