Shake-up for health profession regulation

April 5, 2002

Two new regulatory councils for the health professions came into being on Monday, writes Claire Sanders.

Jonathan Asbridge, deputy chief executive at St Bartholomew's and the Royal London Hospital, has been appointed president of the Nursing and Midwifery Council, and Norma Brook, a consultant physiotherapist, president of the Health Professions Council.

Health minister John Hutton said: "Professional self-regulation underpins our aim to develop a modern, patient-centred NHS. Effective self-regulation reassures patients that the staff who treat them are fully qualified and trained in the most up-to-date practices."

The councils will be responsible for assuring standards on training courses. Both heads support streamlined quality-assurance procedures.

The councils will be smaller than the UK Central Council for Nursing, Midwifery and Health Visiting and the Council for the Professions Supplementary to Medicine that they replace. Both will have greater patient and public representation and faster and more transparent procedures.

A national opinion poll for the NMC, released this week, showed that 77 per cent of the population believes there should be a mix of professionals and the public on the councils, which have the power to remove health professionals from their registers for misconduct.

* The British Medical Association news service has drawn attention to the Scottish Executive's continuing refusal to pay the bursaries of Scottish graduates on fast-track medical degrees in England. Scots on these courses are £17,000 worse off than their UK counterparts.

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