'Keep leash on health watchdog'

August 31, 2001

Government plans for a new overarching regulatory body for all healthcare professionals have left academics and other regulatory bodies concerned that education will be subject to another bureaucratic layer.

In its consultation document, Modernising Regulation in the Health Professions , the government proposes the creation of a Council for the Regulation of Health Care Professionals.

Such a body was first suggested in the National Health Service plan of July 2000 and then endorsed in July this year by the Bristol Inquiry Report, chaired by Ian Kennedy.

But while Professor Kennedy proposed that the body should "promote common curricula and shared learning across the professions", the DoH consultation document interprets this more widely.

It says that the body should have "wider functions, for example, education, training and development of all staff in the healthcare professions".

The regulatory bodies for doctors, nurses and other health professionals are undergoing major reform, aimed at streamlining procedures.

A spokesperson for the Council of Deans of Nursing said: "We would be worried if education and training were the concern of more than one level of professional body."

A spokesperson for the General Medical Council said: "We will need time to reflect on the document, which appears to be lacking in detail."

A spokesperson for the Council for Professions Supplementary to Medicine said: "We have drawn attention to the desirability of streamlining rather than duplicating procedures for accountability."

A DoH spokesman said that the Kennedy report called for a "single overarching view" to be taken of education and training.

"We are aware of the many different organisations that play a role in education, training and development for the healthcare professions.

"We are currently holding a consultation on the role of the new body to look at issues such as this," the spokesman said.

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