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Government proposes reforms to give it power to deregulate healthcare

White paper suggests health secretary could remove professional regulation and abolish regulators

White paper suggests health secretary could remove professional regulation and abolish regulators

The government is seeking two new powers over healthcare deregulation of healthcare professions and the ability to abolish regulators such as the Nursing and Midwifery Council.

Detailed in the governments white paper on plans to revamp the health service in England , the two proposed powers would give the secretary of state for health and social care the ability to remove a profession from regulation and abolish an individual health and care professional regulator.

Government claims healthcare regulation is unfit for purpose

The government said professional regulation for healthcare professionals in the UK has become unfit for purpose.

Professional regulation

White paper suggests health secretary could remove professional regulation and abolish regulators

Picture: iStock

The government is seeking two new powers over healthcare – deregulation of healthcare professions and the ability to abolish regulators such as the Nursing and Midwifery Council.

Detailed in the government’s white paper on plans to revamp the health service in England, the two proposed powers would give the secretary of state for health and social care the ability to ‘remove a profession from regulation’ and ‘abolish an individual health and care professional regulator’.

Government claims healthcare regulation is unfit for purpose

The government said professional regulation for healthcare professionals in the UK has become unfit for purpose.

‘Professional regulation for healthcare professionals has become increasingly rigid, complex and needs to change to better protect patients, support the provision of health services, and help the workforce better meet current and future challenges,’ the document reads.

While the document states that the government expects the majority of health professions, such as nursing, to always be subject to regulation, it adds that the level of regulation could change in the future.

‘We have long called for reforms that would enable us to streamline the way we work’

Andrea Sutcliffe, chief executive, NMC

It says: ‘Over time and with changing technology the risk profile of a given profession may change and while regulation may be necessary now to protect the public, this may not be the case in the future.’

In seeking the power to abolish a regulator, the government document explains this would be needed if a profession was removed from regulation or if a regulator’s duties were taken over by another.

Working to reform the regulatory system

NMC chief executive Andrea Sutcliffe

Reacting to the white paper, the RCN said that nursing should remain a regulated profession and would work with the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) on these proposals.

NMC chief executive Andrea Sutcliffe added that the regulator is pleased the government is committed to looking at the regulatory system and is looking forward to further discussions.

‘We have long called for reforms that would enable us to streamline the way we work and deliver better, safer regulation for the public and our professionals,’ she said.


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