Health and Social Care Bill

Memorandum submitted by Dr Philip Howard (HS 136)

Regarding professional self-regulation by the GMC and other healthcare regulatory bodies.

Background.

Overview

The Appointments Commission was originally established in 2001 as the NHS Appointments Commission as an "arms length body" of the Department of Health. The initial focus was on the appointment of chairs and non-executives to local NHS boards. In October 2006, it was given new powers to provide selection services for all Government Departments and NHS Foundation Trusts. In 2008 its remit was further increased to appoint members of the GMC.

In January 2009 the new GMC consisting of 12 medical and 12 lay members was appointed by the Commission. This meant that the GMC was a much smaller body than hitherto and that the majority of medical members were no longer elected by members of the profession.

Clause 259 of the Health and Social Care Bill abolishes the Appointments Commission. Its powers and functions are taken over by the Secretary of State. Under Part 2 of Schedule 19 s 8(1) " Anything which is in the process of being done by the Appointments Commission under an enactment immediately before abolition may be continued by the Secretary of State".

Suggestion.

With the abolition of the Appointments Commission the appointment of doctors to the GMC should be by election. This would help to ensure that the medical members of the GMC represent the views of the profession to whom they would be democratically accountable. In order to maintain the confidence of their peers, the medical members ought to be doctors actively engaged in practice and with a license to practice at the time of their appointment.

Proposal

That the Health and Social Care Bill is amended so that the medical members of the GMC are licensed to practice and appointed through election. All registered medical practitioners should be eligible to vote. The same principle should also apply to the other healthcare professional bodies such as the General Dental Council and the Nursing and Midwifery Council with the majority of professional members of the regulatory body being duly elected by their peers.

Suggested amendment to clause 211

To change:-

"25C Appointments to regulatory bodies

(1) The Privy Council and a regulatory body may make arrangements for the regulatory body or other persons to assist the Privy Council in connection with its exercise of its appointment power in relation to the regulatory body.

to

"25C Appointments to regulatory bodies

(1) The Privy Council and a regulatory body shall make arrangements with the regulatory body to establish a ballot of the registered members of the relevant professional body so as to appoint a majority of licensed professionals over lay members to that regulatory body.

March 2011