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Antony Townsend bids a fond farewell to the Professional Standards Authority

As Antony Townsend's terms as one of our Board members comes to a close, Antony shares his thoughts and feelings about working with the Authority over the last eight years.

Twenty years ago, when I was Chief Executive of the General Dental Council (GDC), I was peripherally involved in the setting up of the Council for Healthcare Regulatory Professions. The Council was born out of a series of scandals which had undermined public confidence, but was an unwieldy body, dominated by the healthcare regulators without the necessary independence to hold the regulators to account. In the years that followed, the governance of the Council was overhauled to embed independence, and the ‘Right-Touch Regulation’ philosophy was developed.

The PSA which I joined eight years ago as a Board member rose from the ashes of that Council, and has been hugely influential in developing systems of accountability and regulatory excellence. I am very proud to have been part of the PSA for that period. Working with the regulators -who have themselves transformed their approaches – we have a much more stable and transparent system – even though we are frustrated that reforms have not gone further and faster.

What will be my abiding memories of the PSA? First, dedication and excellence. We are really lucky at the PSA to have talented staff who are genuinely committed to the organisation’s mission. I can honestly say that, of all the regulatory organisations for which I have worked (a lot), the PSA’s staff stand out for their commitment. And they are very nice to work with.

Second, development. The PSA did pioneering work in its early years – the development of Right-touch regulation and associated research, Performance Review, the Accredited Registers. But the inability of Governments to keep pace with our reform proposals inevitably led to a kind of lull in the organisation’s development. In the last two to three years, we have seized the initiative again – our reforms of Performance Review, the Accredited Registers, and now the publication of Safer Care for All have enabled us to have a new sense of mission.

Finally, partnership. All organisations have to find ways in which their governing boards can work most productively with the staff without falling over one another. In the last couple of years, I feel that the sense of partnership between the staff and the Board has developed really well.

I’m going to miss my visits to Buckingham Palace Road, and the Teams calls. Good luck to everyone with the next chapter, and in the new building. And thanks for putting up with my suggestions (some of which may have had some value).

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Please note the views expressed in these blogs are those of the individual bloggers and do not necessarily reflect those of the Professional Standards Authority.