Skip to main content

Coronavirus - how we are working during the pandemic


The Coronavirus pandemic has touched upon every aspect of every one's daily lives. Its impact on patients and the health and care sector – for those who work in it and those who regulate it – will be long-lasting.

Regulators – both professional and system – needed to react quickly to help boost the NHS workforce. We prepared some Q&As about how we worked and the approach we took to our oversight of the 10 health  and care professional regulators and the Accredited Registers.

We published guidance for regulators on virtual fitness to practise hearings - you can read it here. We have also published our Learning from Covid-19 review - using case studies to examine how the regulators reacted to the first wave of the pandemic between March to July 2020.



What was our focus during the pandemic?

Our main focus continued to be public protection - our role during this pandemic, as an oversight body, has been to offer support and guidance to ensure that measures introduced to deal with Covid-19 were proportionate but also protected the public. It was vital that the regulatory system provided as much flexibility and support for professionals as possible while still safeguarding patients and the public and ensuring that all regulatory bodies remained accountable.

We introduced hybrid working in September 2020.  You can find out how to contact us here.




How did we carry out our assessments?

We have a statutory duty to report on the regulators' performance so we continued with our performance reviews - however they were proportionate. We realised that the pandemic was placing unprecedented pressures on healthcare professionals and their regulators. The priority for all of us was to act in the best interests of patients and public safety and we have been supportive of the regulators when they made temporary changes to respond to the challenges raised by Covid-19. However, we also needed to make sure that those changes did not introduce additional significant risks for patient and public safety.



What about our oversight of Accredited Registers?

We recognised that as a result of the Covid-19 emergency, the accredited registers we oversee faced significant challenges and had to work in different ways. This meant that there was also an impact on timeliness for submission of annual renewal applications and responses to our requests. We worked with the Registers to agree adapted timetables where this was needed.

There are around 100,000 professionals covered by our Accredited Registers Programme, including around 55,000 mostly self-employed counsellors and psychotherapists – this can prove an invaluable resource to support those who continue to be affected by Covid-19, including front-line health and care professionals.


What happens next?

There is no doubt that Covid-19 proved to be (and continues to be)  a game changer for all of us. In the longer-term, we will need to consider how this crisis might change the regulatory landscape. We have already seen reports about its impact on patients who need urgent cancer treatments as well as the disproportionate number of deaths among the UK's Black and Minority Ethnic population. 

We will need to learn lessons for the future, both in relation to our own approach and to the entire regulatory system..




Find quick links to all the Regulators' Covid-19 website hubs here


Quick links

Read some of our blogs related to Coronavirus and regulation

Read our blog on Agility in a time of crisis

There is no blueprint for how a regulatory system should respond to a pandemic. However, the six principles of right-touch regulation – proportionate, consistent, targeted, transparent, accountable and agile could provide a framework 

We met (virtually) with regulatory colleagues to discuss how the Coronavirus pandemic has impacted our work and how it is likely to have long-lasting effects and and shape regulatory policy well into the future.

With the Coronavirus pandemic placing unprecedented pressures on those working in health and care and those who regulate and register them – our Chief Executive discusses how to balance the need for flexibility with accountability and ensure that professional regulation is acting in the best interests of patient and public safety.