Notes from the Council for Healthcare Regulatory Excellence (CHRE) meeting - 26th January 2012
It was reported that the CHRE Chief Executive, Harry Cayton, and the Chair of CHRE Council, Baroness Pitkeathley, had met the Minister, Baroness Northover, on Monday to update her on CHRE register development. There were reassurances that the government was completely committed to the voluntary register scheme despite pressures from different areas. There was a strong steer that the government recognised that any change of heart would undermine the role of voluntary registers/ register accreditation. (NOTE, despite this, on the same day (26 /01/2012) the Government announced its decision to statutorily regulate those currently unregulated senior Public Health Professionals in the HPC)
Christine Braithwaite, Director of Policy and External Relations at CHRE, spoke to a 'high-level draft' paper on the proposed model for the accreditation scheme for voluntary registers. She would be holding a meeting with stakeholder organisations at the end of February/ early March to consider the standards and processes. It was noted that:
- The standards would be road tested at workshops prior to going out for consultation in April 2012.
- The intention was to accredit two sets of organisations - those individual organisations who hold their own register and organisations acting as a 'sponsor' for more than one occupational register. It was hoped that this would both facilitate the coming together of smaller organisations and limit fragmentation of disciplines.
- The Council strongly supported the phrase 'mandatory through choice' and were pleased to learn that there is already evidence that the scheme will have a beneficial impact on systems and governance within the organisations likely to apply.
- There was some discussion regarding fees but Christine said that the figures were currently provisional and only once the scheme is fully designed and piloted, can any figures be finalised. It was recognised that the fees may be considerable for some organisations and the idea of 'sponsor organisations' was designed to address this. If organisations required extensive support with the application process there would be an additional charge but it had not yet been decided at what stage this might be introduced.
- The timetable of the scheme was also likely to subject to change because of uncertainty relating to the legislative process of the Health and Social Care Bill.
- An accreditation panel of three staff would consider applications and that the CHRE Scrutiny Committee would oversee the operation of the scheme at their regular meeting. There was some confusion surrounding the appeals process with the statement 'The Chair will consider appeals against the panel's decision' - it was decided that this was likely to be the Chair of Council.
- Christine reported that she was hoping to launch the scheme in December. Harry Cayton stated that they wanted to announce the accreditation of 'leading organisations' on the PSA register on the first day.
Questions were invited from the observers. Sally Aldridge, Director of Regulatory Policy at BACP, suggested that more work needed to be done on the appeals process and that it was quite likely that, in a two part process, appeals on eligibility would far outweigh accreditation appeals. She also asked for more information on acceptability criteria for registrant activities.
Christine said that she would be looking at the appeals procedures in more detail. Harry that there was an issue regarding acceptability criteria and that the definition of health and social care in legislation was so broad that CHRE were looking at giving it more shape. Also it was hoped that the wording relating to the knowledge base criteria would provide a barrier to unsuitable organisations or disciplines. However, at the same time, it was important not to limit public choice. In addition, there would be clear guidance for those consulting the accredited registers that the accreditation scheme does not give credibility to that profession or practice.
Carmen Ablack, a UKCP trustee, highlighted the politics about which organisations would be chosen in the first instance. Also, she stated that demand may well exceed that currently expected and that the minimum of five in the first year was likely to be an underestimate.