Upholding Professional Standards in NHS Wales
On 1 September 2015, Upholding Professional Standard in Wales (UPSW) came into force to address concerns about capability, performance and conduct for all doctors and dentists (Practitioners) employed by the Local Health Boards or other NHS organisations in Wales. It represents the culmination of 13 years of negotiation between the BMA, NHS Employers and Welsh Government and its aim was to simplify the process for addressing concerns and avoid the 'black hole' of the previous procedure which many of you will be familiar with, and may bear the scars from - WHC(90)22. It replaces all previous disciplinary procedures under WHC(90)22, DM(95) 44 , WHC(82)17 and the Section 190 right of appeal to the Secretary of State, which a limited number of Practitioners still had a right to.
So what's different about this procedure?
Far from simplifying and streamlining the procedure, UPSW has in many respects complicated matters further by adding in new layers of appeal, further rights of legal representation and placing a greater emphasis on the role of external third parties such as NCAS. The concept of the designated board member (DBM) has been introduced for the first time. The idea behind the appointment of a DBM is to ensure that there is someone at Board level who has ultimate responsibility for making sure that the matter is progressing in a timely manner. There is a need to ensure that independent board members are adequately trained on the new procedure and understand the importance of the role they have to play. There is also a requirement placed on employers to ensure that all those who are involved in the application of UPSW are adequately trained, especially those who are undertaking investigations and sitting on the relevant panels under the procedure.
Who does the procedure apply to and what does it cover?
It applies to all medical and dental practitioners including those in training and on temporary, locum or honorary contracts. The procedure is divided into five parts.
- Action when concern arises
- Restriction of practice and exclusion
- Dealing with health concerns
- A Standard Procedure for less serious issues for which the sanction is likely to be short of dismissal
- An Extended Procedure for more serious cases where the outcome could be dismissal.
How can we help?
Blake Morgan has a large and experienced team of lawyers who work with employers in the health sector and are able to advise on the application of the new procedure. We are running a series of seminars on UPSW aimed specifically at HR teams and Board members to ensure that all individuals who are involved in the operation of the procedure are adequately trained and properly prepared should they be called upon to assist.