The Professional Standards Authority (PSA) has today published its report on the GDC’s performance for the period 2019/20, which shows that we met 16 of the 18 Standards of Good Regulation.
We are pleased that the assessment recognises we are a fair and proportionate regulator and that this reflects the good work our teams have done to ensure we continuously improve.
There were two areas in which the PSA concluded that we fell short of the standard. These were Standard 15, which looks at the proportionality, fairness and timeliness of fitness to practise processes; and Standard 17, which looks at the use of interim orders in the fitness to practise process.
In relation to Standard 17, we were aware that the information we provided to the PSA during the assessment process showed an increase in the time taken to make referrals to the Interim Orders Committee (IOC), and that we had already taken steps to address this. We are pleased to report that the steps we took resolved the issue, and that, since early 2020, we have once again been referring cases to the IOC in line with our previous performance. We are therefore confident that this standard will be restored at the next review.
In relation to Standard 15, despite not having met the element of the standard that relates to timeliness, we are nevertheless pleased that the assessment reflected that our processes are fair and proportionate. We of course agree with the PSA that timeliness is immensely important and improving those aspects of timeliness that fall within our control has been a key focus for us in recent years. Not every change we have made has succeeded in improving timeliness, but we have made improvements.
on those elements that are within our direct control has served to
underline that they comprise only a relatively small part
of the total time taken (significant time is often spent
awaiting responses and submissions from the parties, who need time
to provide their evidence, and there are cases that we
are unable to progress because we are awaiting the outcome of other
investigations or proceedings). We must therefore recognise
that, without legislative change to provide stronger powers of case
management, the impact of any action we take is likely to be
limited. Of course, the
impact of COVID-19, and the challenges that this has presented for all of
us, add further complexity.
Timeliness is a problem which will take extended effort and legislative change to solve completely. We nevertheless remain committed to making improvements where possible, while ensuring that we maintain our focus on the other important elements of proportionality and fairness.