A joint statement issued on 26th July 2018 announced the signing of a protocol between eight health and social care regulators. The protocol sets out that it is intended to help ensure regulators are transparent with the public, providers and professionals about the way that they work together.
Whilst most health and social care regulators already have existing arrangements for sharing concerns between regulators, the ‘emerging concerns protocol’ has been formulated as a tool to support regulators to understand how they can share information and is designed to work alongside existing protocols. Specifically, it is aimed at helping staff across the signatory organisations to make decisions about when they should escalate information of concern with one or more organisations.
The ‘emerging concerns protocol’ states that it is intended to provide clarity as to the mechanisms by which the regulators should share information and intelligence which may indicate risks to people who use services, their carers, families or professionals. Examples of the types of information that could be shared are given within the protocol itself, which identifies: (a) situations that may not be seen as an emergency, but which may indicate future risks; and (b) cultural issues within health and social care settings that may be noticed, but would not necessarily be raised through alternative formal systems.
The current signatories to the agreement are as follows:
- General Medical Council
- General Pharmaceutical Council
- Health and Care Professions Council
- Health Education England
- Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman
- Nursing and Midwifery Council
- Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman
The statement also confirms that the General Dental Council are expected to become a signatory in the coming weeks.
It is not yet clear what impact this protocol will have. As stated previously, regulators already have mechanisms by which they share information and concerns but the protocol appears to be a more formalised guidance document to assist regulators in deciding whether to escalate their concerns to other organisations. This may well result in an increase in information sharing with the potential impact of an increase in regulatory action being taken against businesses and individuals regulated by those organisations.
As specialists in this area we understand that any potential enforcement or fitness to practise issue will impact significantly on your business and/or professional reputation. It is important to protect your business and registration with advice from a specialist before you take any other action. If you do require assistance in dealing with issues you may have with your professional regulator please contact our specialist team on 01616 966 229.