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Promoting equality, diversity and inclusion

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We are committed to supporting and promoting equality, diversity and inclusion.

Strengthening our approach to EDI for regulators and Accredited Registers

We announced in Spring 2023 (7 June) that, as part of our strategic focus on equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI), we are changing the way we assess the performance of the organisations we oversee. This includes the 10 statutory regulators and the Accredited Registers.

The statutory regulators are assessed each year against our Standards of Good Regulation. Standard 3, which was introduced in 2019, considers whether the regulator understands the diversity of its stakeholders and ensures that its processes do not discriminate unfairly. Since early 2022, the threshold for meeting this Standard has been under review as we work towards increasing our expectations of the regulators’ performance, having seen improvements across the board since its introduction. We recently published an updated evidence framework and guidance for regulators on Standard 3, outlining our increased expectations for 2023-26.

Organisations in the Accredited Registers programme are assessed against our Standards for Accredited Registers. Following a public consultation earlier this year, a new EDI Standard will be introduced over the coming months which will look at how organisations which hold a Register demonstrate their commitment to EDI and ensure their processes do not discriminate unfairly.

Consumer research - Perspectives on discriminatory behaviour in health and care

We have now published the report of research we commissioned on perspectives on discriminatory behaviour in health and care. This is a piece of qualitative research looking at what constitutes discriminatory behaviour in health and social care and the different ways in which this behaviour may have an impact on public safety and confidence. This research arose from our observations outlined in Safer care for all in relation to how regulators deal with racist and discriminatory behaviour within the fitness to practise process. The report was published on 14 June to coincide with our Chief Executive speaking at a session on equality at the NHS Confed Expo 2023 in Manchester. We envisage that the research will help to inform a consistent and appropriate response by regulators and Accredited Registers towards the various types of discrimination.


Background/context to our first EDI action plan

The murder of George Floyd and the associated Black Lives Matter movement brought into focus the fact that society and organisations still have a long way to go in addressing systemic racial inequalities. The pandemic has further exposed inequalities in relation to race, sex, disability, and socio-economic status, as has the murder of Sarah Everard. The Authority is not unique in facing challenges in relation to its approach and track record on EDI. We have, therefore, been looking at our role.

In November 2020, we commissioned an audit by Derek Hooper to gain feedback from our staff and external stakeholders on EDI to identify areas for improvement. The audit included an assessment of how we were perceived by regulators. It identified key strengths, including the commitment of the leadership and staff to EDI and the work we had already done to encourage regulators to consider EDI as part of their obligations.

The audit also showed that, while the PSA has a commitment to EDI, it still has some way to go in making sure that every employee feels included and able to get their voice heard. Regarding its external role, the organisation was seen by its regulatory community to be lacking credibility on EDI due to its lack of visibility on these issues in the past. We therefore need to improve our performance in this critical area to demonstrate our commitment to EDI in spirit and in practice.

The audit highlighted the following areas for further work and development:

  • Culture
  • Leadership Development
  • Diversity profile of the PSA
  • Staff Development
  • Policy development and EIAs
  • EDI Communication and Messaging
  • EDI in regulation and the role of PSA.

Following that, we appointed Mehrunnisa Lalani to help us develop a plan to embed EDI into our work and culture. Mehrunnisa worked with our staff and Board to prepare an action plan for us to carry forward.

Our vision is to:

Live our values and foster a culture where all our people feel included and are empowered to achieve their best, where we welcome and celebrate diversity, where inequalities and unfair treatment is called out and addressed and, where we set the example for what good looks like for all those we interact with internally and externally.

We have developed three objectives that will give a focus to our work on EDI.

  1. We will develop our capability so that we have the knowledge and understanding to lead by example in creating an empowering and inclusive culture
  2. We will promote an inclusive workplace culture where everyone feels empowered, engaged and valued
  3. We will use our influence to encourage the promotion and progression of EDI across health and social care regulators and accredited registers.

You can download the action plan in Word or as a PDF.

Get in touch

Please let us know if you need our material in other formats. Email info@professionalstandards.org.uk

National Inclusion Week 2023

The week ran from 25 September to 1 October 2023 and the theme for this year was 'take action, make impact'. We took the opportunity to reflect on what action we have taken over the last few years and you can find out more in this visual summary.

We also asked some of our colleagues 'What does inclusion mean to me?' You can find out how they answered in the short vox pops below (but there are a few clues in this word cloud).

An image of a word cloud showing words associated with an inclusive workplace

'What does inclusion mean to me?' Watch our videos:
Amrat Khorana, PSA Associate Board Member

Nefo Yuki-Igbinosa, First participant on the PSA’s Work Experience Scheme

Christine Braithwaite, PSA Director of Standards and Policy

No more excuses - tackling inequalities in health and care professional regulation

This is the first chapter in our report - Safer care for all: solutions from professional regulation and beyondIt discusses how there are still unequal and unfair outcomes for protected groups in aspects of professional regulation. Find out more here.

Read our blogs

Public protection at the heart of reform

With legislative reform underway, what are the next steps for professional healthcare regulation? 

This was the theme of the recent Westminster Health Forum Policy Conference, chaired by Lord Hunt of Kings Health (representing the All-Party Parliamentary Health Group), at which I spoke about the need to put public protection at the heart of regulatory reform.

In my presentation I focused on:

  • the necessity of reform;
  • the need to get the legislation right; and
  • our commitment to support implementation of the reforms.

I also discussed how we can promote safer care for all by using reform and by refocusing regulation.

Why do we need reform?

So, why do we need reform? Some might say to improve the efficiency of regulation; to provide up-to-date and more flexible legislation; to have simpler, more coherent and more consistent regulation; or to introduce more proportionate, less adversarial fitness to practise processes. All laudable aims, but secondary to the importance of improving public protection. We need reform to keep us safer – the efficiency, flexibility and proportionality of the processes are important, but not if any of them come at the expense of protecting the public.

For this reason, it is vital we get the legislation right. Along with the obvious desire for the legislation to be fit for purpose, we know that it is the intention of the government to use the forthcoming legislation – which will regulate a few thousand physician and anaesthesia associates – as the blueprint for reform of most of the other regulators. These regulators oversee more than 1.5 million professionals working in health and social care. If it turns out that the legislation isn’t as good as it needs to be to improve public protection, then we must improve it before it is rolled out across the sector.

Reform will replace prescriptive legislation with enabling legislation. We are essentially saying to the regulators, “Here are the powers; it is up to you how to use them”. This additional flexibility brings with it a need for greater accountability and implies that guidance on using the powers will be beneficial.

What is the PSA's position on reform?

The PSA’s position on reform is simple and has not changed: we welcome reform; we will work with others to design legislation that enhances public protection; and we will do everything within our remit, powers and capacity to ensure that reformed regulation is as effective as possible in protecting the public. On this point, we will soon be consulting on our initial guidance documents that will support the implementation of reform.

Driving reform, getting the legislation right, and supporting the implementation of reform will all lead to better regulation. Better regulation can make an even greater contribution to safer care for all. It can help to support effective workforce strategies, respond to new risks, and tackle inequalities – all in the interests of public protection.

This is all good stuff. It is ambitious and forward-looking. The future is bright. But here is the elephant in the room: we don’t yet have large scale reform. The process is slow and clunky, there has been little contribution from the patient voice, the legislation may well need more work before a widescale rollout, and there is a risk that it could all grind to a halt. We can’t let that happen.

If we can keep the momentum going, get the legislation right and support the reforms, then we may just get there one day. But what about the problems we face today, or next week, or next year? Reform is not going to provide the answers to these challenges.

Refocusing regulation

Regulation needs refocusing now to keep us safer. This does not require reform. We need to focus on violations and recklessness, and much less on errors and mistakes. We need to focus on positive and preventative regulation – for example, initial training, continuing fitness to practise, and information, advice and guidance to support professionals to meet high standards of competence and conduct. And we need to focus on a kinder, more compassionate model of regulation.

This does not mean compromising standards, just ensuring that regulation is not excessively draconian in its methods or sanctions. This will reduce fear, promote a just culture, support retention of professionals, and, to quote the Patient Safety Commissioner for England, encourage more “speaking up, listening up and following up”.

Refocused regulation matters – it is better, fairer, more cost-effective and keeps us safer. Refocused regulation is about doing a good job today and an even better job tomorrow. Then, when we get reform, we can use it as an opportunity for a step change in public protection and safer care for all.


Find out more

  • Read through our statement in response to the draft legislation laid before the UK and Scottish Parliaments on Wednesday, 13 December 2023 which will give the General Medical Council the statutory powers it needs to regulate the Anaesthesia Associate and Physician Associate professions in the UK.
  • Or find out more about reforming regulation here.