Emergency registration of health professionals
12 The Bill introduces new registration powers for the Registrars of the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) and the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC). This is to help to deal with the increase in those needing medical care and any shortage of approved staff to help. On notification from the Secretary of State of an emergency, Registrars of the NMC and HCPC will be able to temporarily register fit, proper and suitably experienced persons with regard to an emergency, as regulated healthcare professionals.
13 The NMC registration will cover nurses, midwives, and nursing associates, and the HCPC registration will cover paramedics, biomedical scientists, clinical scientists, operating department practitioners and any other of the ‘relevant professions’ it regulates. [To note that there are existing legislative powers for the General Medical Council to register doctors in the UK, and for the General Pharmaceutical Council to register pharmacists in Great Britain, in an emergency. This Bill intends to confer similar powers onto the NMC and the HCPC.]
14 For Scotland, provision is made to modify the National Health Service (Primary Medical Services Performers Lists) (Scotland) Regulations 2004 to support the fast deployment of temporarily registered health care workers by the NHS. The modifications permit general practitioners with temporary registration under section 18A of the Medical Act 1983 (temporary registration with regard to emergencies) to provide primary medical services despite not being included in the primary medical services performers list of a Health Board where they have applied to the Health Board and the Health Board has not refused or deferred the application.
15 As Performers Lists Regulations apply to all medical practitioners who are involved in primary medical services, under the current arrangements all temporarily registered GPs who are recruited to join the covid-19 emergency response would have to be on the performers list of the Health Board which recruits them. Scottish Government understands that the vast majority of GPs who leave the profession in Scotland also promptly leave the performers lists to which they used to belong. This relieves them of their obligations under the Regulations, chiefly the requirement to submit to an annual performance appraisal. It is expected that very few, possibly none, of the additional GPs who are recruited will currently be on a Health Board performers list.
16 Action is therefore necessary to modify the requirement to be on a performers list in order to streamline the process. To ensure patient safety is not jeopardised if the requirement, the Bill is to maintain the requirement to be listed in order to provide primary medical services, and continue to require GPs to apply in the usual way. To speed up the emergency response and prevent performers lists requirements from being a barrier, GPs who are temporarily registered will be permitted to provide primary medical services in Scotland while their application is considered. This compromise allows the Health Boards to gather all of the information which they would usually, and to have access to the powers they usually would in case of any conduct incidents, but would also get GPs to the front line of the emergency response without undue delay. To note: The National Health Service (Performers Lists (England) Regulations 2013 make provision in relation to doctors registered under .18A Medical Act 1983 in relation to practising in the NHS in England.]
17 For Northern Ireland, the Pharmaceutical Society of Northern Ireland (the Society) is the regulatory body for the pharmacy profession in Northern Ireland. The Pharmacy (Northern Ireland) Order 1976 sets out the powers and responsibilities of the Society including the criteria required to be registered as a pharmaceutical chemist (pharmacist) and the criteria required for a pharmacist’s entry in the register to be annotated as either a supplementary or independent prescriber. The Bill will allow for people who may have been prevented from registering under the 1976 Order to be registered when directed by the Department of Health in Northern Ireland that an emergency has occurred or is occurring. Groups that could be considered for temporary registration may include pre-registration pharmacists or recently retired pharmacists.
18 Medicines legislation in Northern Ireland requires a registered pharmacist to supervise certain activities, for example, the supply of prescription-only medicines from a registered pharmacy. In an emergency, the situation may arise where additional pharmacists are required, or additional pharmacists with annotations are required, to assist with the prescribing and supply of medicines. The Bill provides mechanisms which will help deal with such a situation.