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Right-touch regulation 2015

11 Apr 2016 | Professional Standards Authority
  • Discussion paper

In 2015 we published our revised version of our 2010 Right-touch regulation paper. The core principles remain the same, but we have expanded on areas and provided more clarity.


This revised paper sets out the Professional Standards Authority’s refreshed thinking as we explore the role and value of regulation in controlling the risk of harm to the public. Common themes have emerged through our oversight of the health and care professional regulators, in our advice to Governments on areas of regulatory policy and in our development of accredited registers. Our original paper was published in 2010.

Since then, we and others have applied it to a variety of problems in regulation both in the UK and internationally. Right-touch regulation describes the approach we adopt in the work we do. It is the approach that we encourage regulators to work towards, and it frames the contributions we make to wider debates about the quality and safety of health and social care and the development of regulation. It also provides a framework for thinking about wholesale reform of existing regulatory arrangements.

This paper reaffirms that this approach is the right one to take. It explains Right-touch regulation in practice and outlines the benefits it offers for professional regulation and to wider health and care delivery, as our area of expertise and experience. In 2010, we hoped that other areas of regulation might find this approach useful too; in 2015, we know that others have tried it and found it so. We have drawn on these collective experiences, clarified some areas, expanded on the concept of risk, discussed responsibility, and defined Right-touch regulation more clearly. We have also provided some practical examples to illustrate the approach. The core principles however, remain unchanged. We continue to see this as a work in progress, and an approach to be debated and improved over time.

Right-touch regulation

The concept of Right-touch regulation emerges from the application of the principles of good regulation identified by the Better Regulation Executive in 20002 , to which the Professional Standards Authority has added agility as a sixth principle.

With this addition, the principles state that regulation should aim to be:

  • Proportionate: regulators should only intervene when necessary. Remedies should be appropriate to the risk posed, and costs identified and minimised
  • Consistent: rules and standards must be joined up and implemented fairly
  • Targeted: regulation should be focused on the problem, and minimise side effects
  • Transparent: regulators should be open, and keep regulations simple and user friendly
  • Accountable: regulators must be able to justify decisions, and be subject to public scrutiny
  • Agile: regulation must look forward and be able to adapt to anticipate change. These principles provide the foundation for thinking on regulatory policy in all sectors of society.