Google+ Facebook Twitter Twitter

Regulation: an IBMS position statement

Alan Wainwright, Executive Head of Education at the IBMS, looks at a consultation on regulation.

The Government has launched a consultation that considers how the powers to introduce and remove professions from regulation might be used in the future with respect to decisions on which professions should be regulated, no longer require statutory regulation or whether there are unregulated professions that should be brought into statutory regulation. This is part of a series of consultations as the government seeks additional legislative powers under the Health and Care Bill to ensure this happens through the power to close down an individual health and care professional regulator or remove restrictions on the delegation of functions by the regulators

Statutory regulation refers to health and care professions that must be registered with a professional regulatory body by law. The titles used by regulated professionals are also legally protected. It is an offence for an individual to describe themselves as a regulated healthcare professional without holding the appropriate registration with the relevant regulator (for example, a biomedical scientist with the Health and Care Professions Council).

The IBMS is responding to this consultation and wishes to raise awareness among its members about key aspects about statutory regulation of biomedical scientists that inform the response.

  1. The IBMS agrees that a qualitative and quantitative analysis of the risk of harm to patients is one of the most crucial factors to consider when deciding whether to regulate a health or care profession but should not be regarded as the sole determinant for regulation. Qualitative and quantitative analysis of the likelihood of risk of harm to patients is crucial to ensuring the best informed and evidence-based outcome for the patients. Qualitative risk analysis is more subjective and mainly focuses on identifying risks to measure the likelihood of a specific risk event occurring. The goal is to determine severity, i.e. quantitative analysis as this is better for managing the risk of harm to patients as it uses verifiable data to analyse the effects of risk involved.
  2. The IBMS agrees that proportionality, targeted regulation and consistency should also be considered in deciding whether to regulate a health or care profession. Regulation can often be seen as a bureaucratic barrier, but certainly in the case of biomedical scientists there is a strong desire for regulation from within the profession and professional body as the underpinning science and understanding that underpins the knowledge of laboratory investigation into disease, and training that is required to perform the analyses safely to provide accurate results, creates a culture of professional competence and understanding of the risk to patients that can occur when strict standards of practice are not adhered to.
  3. The IBMS agrees that the currently regulated professions should remain subject to statutory regulation as this plays a critical role in setting and implementing the standards of professional behaviour, competence and ethics underpinning the day-to-day interactions that patients and the public have with the NHS and the variety of other health and social care services within the UK. A professional, responsive and flexible workforce is the cornerstone of the healthcare service provision. Professional regulation reassures the public that the people who provide healthcare are qualified, capable and competent. When healthcare professionals do not meet these standards, professional regulators should automatically act to protect the public. The risk of removing regulation is not just about a reduction in standards. For some, such as biomedical scientists, removal would imply that the high standards of quality scientific and clinical work were not required to deliver patient care. Loss of protective title would erode the entity of the profession and with it the specific requirements for education and training and continued professional development.
  4. The IBMS disagrees that currently unregulated professions should remain unregulated and not subject to statutory regulation.The alternative of voluntary registration does not have the legislative power to remove someone from a register that permits them to practise based on their confirmed ability to meet standards of practice that protect the public. The advances in healthcare knowledge and technology should require unregulated professions to be reviewed to determine if they can be recommended for statutory regulation based on the assessment of risk to patients and the public.  

Have your say

The Department of Health and Social Care is seeking views on the criteria used to make decisions on which health and social care professions should be regulated. To respond to the consultation, visit This consultation closes at 11:45pm on 31 March 2022.

Image Credit | iStock

Related Articles