Safeguarding the public by regulating health and social care professionals: lessons from Mid-Staffordshire and the Law Commission review

Pages52-59
DOIhttps://doi.org/10.1108/JAP-06-2013-0024
Publication Date04 Feb 2014
AuthorTim Spencer-Lane
SubjectHealth & social care,Vulnerable groups,Adult protection
Safeguarding the public by regulating
health and social care professionals:
lessons from Mid-Staffordshire and the
Law Commission review
Tim Spencer-Lane
Tim Spencer-Lane is a Lawyer,
based at Law Commission,
London, UK.
Abstract
Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to consider the final report of the Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation
TrustPublic Inquiry and the Law Commissions’ review of health and social care professional regulation – and
how these will impact on the professional regulation bodies.
Design/methodology/approach – Summary and discussion of the relevant recommendations made by
the Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust Public Inquiry and the initial Government response, and
consultation responses to the Law Commissions’ provisional proposals for law reform of health and social
care professional regulation.
Findings – Future legislation is likely to be based on the recommendations of the Mid Staffordshire NHS
Foundation Trust Public Inquiry and the Law Commissions.
Originality/value – Overview of the Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust Public Inquiry and the initial
Government response, and consultation responses to the Law Commissions.
Keywords Legal, Standards, Regulation, Professional ethics, Conduct, Fitness to practise
Paper type General review
What makes our National Health Service special is the simple principle that the moment
you are injured or fall ill, or the moment something happens to someone you love, you know
that whoever you are, wherever you are from, whatever is wrong, and however much you have
got in the bank, there is a place you can go where people will look after you and do everything
they can to make things right again. The shocking truth is that that precious principle of British
life was broken in Mid Staffordshire – the Prime Minister, David Cameron MP (Hansard, 2013,
col 283).
The primary purpose of professional regulation is public safety. This is achieved not only by
a process of weeding out those who fall short of professional standards but also by ensuring
high standards of practice and thereby reducing the need for disciplinary intervention. The story
of the Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust demonstrates how the conduct of individual
professionals can contribute to the failure of an NHS organisation to protect its patients from
harm. This paper considers recent developments which will impact significantly on how
professionals will be regulated in the future in order to protect the public. First, it will highlight the
main lessons for professional regulation from the final report of the Mid Staffordshire NHS
Foundation Trust Public Inquiry and the Government response. Second, it will look at the future
of professional regulation by setting out the key messages from the recent Law Commission
public consultation.
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THE JOURNAL OF ADULT PROTECTION
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VOL. 16 NO. 1 2014, pp. 52-59, CEmerald Group Publishing Limited, ISSN 1466-8203 DOI 10.1108/JAP-06-2013-0024

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