An overview of the statutory regulation of Health & Social Care Organisations and Registered Professionals in the UK

UK Regulators: Responsibilities & Standards

UK Regulators oversee the statutory and mandatory obligations of all health and social care organisations and their registered medical professionals.

They ensure that all healthcare providers and their employees meet their required standards.

Failing to meet these standards can result in organisations falling into ‘special measures’ or individual practitioners to be subject to investigations and/or conditions on their practice.

UK Regulators have responsibility to oversee:

  • Setting standards of competence and conduct that professionals must meet in order to be registered and practise
  • Checking the quality of clinical governance, processes and services provided
  • Maintaining a register that everyone can search
  • Investigating complaints

For more information, use the links below for a quick outline of each UK Regulator.

The General Medical Council - GMC

The GMC help to protect patients and improve medical education and practice in the UK by setting standards for students and doctors. They are responsible for supporting them in achieving and exceeding the standards, and take action when they are not met. The GMC work with doctors, employers, educators and patients to achieve high standards of care.

The Nursing & Midwifery Council - NMC

The Nursing and Midwifery Council is the regulator for nursing and midwifery professions in the UK. The NMC maintains a register of all nurses, midwives and specialist community public health nurses and nursing associates eligible to practise within the UK.

Health & Care Professions Council - HCPC

The Health and Care Professions Council is a statutory regulator of over 280,000 professionals from 15 health and care professions in the United Kingdom.

General Dental Council - GDC

The General Dental Council (GDC) is the UK-wide statutory regulator of around 116,000 members of the dental team.

Their primary purpose is to protect patient safety and maintain public confidence in dental services. To achieve this, they maintain a register of qualified dental professionals, set standards for the dental team, investigate complaints about dental professionals’ fitness to practise, and work to ensure the quality of dental education.

The Care Quality Commission - CQC

The CQC is the independent regulator of all health and social care services in England.

The CQC’s purpose is to ensure that health and social care services in England provide people with safe, effective, compassionate and high quality care.

They regulate health and social care services through a statutory framework of registration, inspection, monitoring, rating and quality improvement.

Healthcare Improvement Scotland and Care Inspectorate Scotland - CIS

[Formerly: SCSWIS]

Health and Social care services in Scotland are regulated by two bodies:

Hospitals and Independent clinics are regulated by HIS, social care services are regulated by CIS.

Health Inspectorate Wales - HIW

The Health Inspectorate Wales is the independent regulator responsible for inspecting, reviewing and investigating NHS services and independent healthcare providers in Wales against a range of standards, policies, guidance and regulations to highlight areas requiring improvement.

Regulation and Quality Improvement Authority - RQIA

The Regulation and Quality Improvement Authority (RQIA) is the independent body responsible for monitoring and inspecting the availability and quality of health and social care services in Northern Ireland, and encouraging improvements in the quality of those services.

Human Fertilisation & Embryology Authority - HFEA

The HFEA regulate fertility clinics and projects involving research with human embryos, wherever they are based in the UK. This involves licensing, inspections and setting standards.

Crown Commercial Services Frameworks - CCS

Crown Commercial Services is the biggest public procurement organisation in the UK. Procurement regulations oblige public sector bodies to tender (seek bids) from suppliers when they want to buy goods and services above a certain value. Buying through CCS complies with procurement regulations but simplifies the process for buyers.

NHS England - NHSE

NHS England, officially the NHS Commissioning Board, is an executive non-departmental public body of the Department of Health and Social Care. 

NHS England, in line with statutory legislation, are responsible for the regulation of all public and independent service providers registered as Designated Bodies; the organisations a licenced doctor has either a professional, educational or employment connection with. A Designated Body is held accountable for managing and supporting the continued quality assurance and fitness to practice of all their doctor connections under the The Medical Professional [Responsible Officers] Regulations 2010 and 2013 Amendment  and in accordance with the Framework of Quality Assurance. 

Information Commissioner's Office - ICO

ICO is the UK’s independent authority set up to uphold information rights in the public interest, promoting openness by public bodies and data privacy for individuals. Any organisation processing the personally identifiable data of UK citizens must be registered with ICO and are subject to mandated security regulations.

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