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Parliamentary debates and questions

S5W-13567: Miles Briggs (Lothian)

Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party

Date lodged: 19 December 2017

To ask the Scottish Government, further to the answer to question S5W-12864 by Shona Robison on 29 November 2017, in light of the consultation discussing options for reforming the way that professional regulators handle complaints from patients and the public, whether it plans to change the current arrangement, in which NHS boards investigate complaints addressed to themselves first before considering the possible involvement of professional bodies, and what the reasons are for its position on this matter.

Answered by: Shona Robison 9 January 2018

The consultation ‘Promoting professionalism, reforming regulation’ is not due to close until 23:59 on 23 January 2018. As such, it would not be appropriate to comment on future options for the development of professional healthcare regulation.

It is open to anyone to refer a registered health professional to the appropriate regulator when concerns arise about their fitness to practise. Complaints handling procedures vary from regulator to regulator and the wide-ranging consultation seeks views on all aspects of regulation, up to and including the structure and number of the regulators themselves. It is important to note that the professional healthcare regulatory bodies operate on an independent basis, according to their respective legislation, and it is for them to consider and take appropriate action on complaints about registrants’ fitness to practise.

When a complaint is made against an employee, it is right that the Health Board as the employer is allowed the opportunity to investigate properly before making a decision about referring the matter to a professional regulator. However, where clear and serious concerns arise, Boards are entitled to and will often make an immediate referral in the interests of patient safety. The ability of a Board to look into complaints enables them to learn from mistakes and take immediate action to support effective clinical governance.