Putting patients first: Parties take next step to modernize health professions regulation
The multi-party steering committee is releasing its recommendations to modernize the province’s health profession regulatory system, taking the next step to ensure that patient safety and improved transparency is at its forefront.
“We’re fully invested in the goal to put patients first and the implementation of these recommendations will help strengthen the regulatory colleges’ ability to deliver on their mandate to protect the public,” said Adrian Dix, Minister of Health and chair of the steering committee. “I want to thank partners and members of the public for their input. We received over 1,780 written submissions and 4,018 surveys in the consultations. This is an area we are passionate about improving and evidently, so are you.”
Dix, and members of the steering committee, Norm Letnick, health critic for the official Opposition, and Sonia Furstenau, health critic and house leader of the third party, reviewed feedback from the public, health professionals, regulators, associations, Indigenous partners, unions and health authorities to revise and finalize the recommendations.
The recommendations will be presented to the executive council for their consideration. If the members agree with the recommendations, legislation will be drafted and brought forward to the legislative assembly for consideration. If passed, amendments to the Health Professions Act will put into place the legislative framework required for their implementation.
Six areas of focus are aimed to improve the overall effectiveness of the system, strengthen governance and oversight, and increase transparency for the public.
The recommendation to reduce the number of regulatory colleges from 20 to six will improve efficiency and support the shift toward team-based care. A new oversight body will be created to oversee the colleges and report out publicly on their progress. A new complaints process is being recommended to ensure fairness of investigations and the oversight body will be taking over the role of discipline to ensure the penalties are consistent and fair across professions and colleges. These actions will serve the dual goals of increasing oversight and transparency.
The recommendations will bring the province’s regulatory system into the 21st century and ensure that it works for patients in B.C.
“We’re working as a team on this issue, because we all think that appropriate and safe health-care is a priority for all British Columbians,” Letnick said. “We’re impressed with the level of feedback and have considered all recommendations carefully as we propose changes for better care.”
Health regulation plays a vital role in B.C. by setting and enforcing the standards of professional behaviour, competence and ethics that underpin the day-to-day interactions patients and the public have with health professionals.
“The committee felt that transparency and patient safety was one of the top concerns, and the public shares those feelings,” Furstenau said. “We are listening, and we are moving forward with our efforts to create safer, leaner and more-efficient health profession regulation.”
In response to concerns regarding the College of Dental Surgeons of British Columbia, Dix took the rare and significant step in 2018 of launching a review into the administrative and operational practices of the college. Harry Cayton, former chief executive of the United Kingdom’s Professional Standards Authority, was tasked to conduct the review.
Cayton was further asked to review the Health Professions Act and its regulations, make recommendations, and advise the steering committee in its work to renew and improve the health regulatory system in B.C. These recommendations follow the 2019 report.
For more information on the recommendations, and how they would change the current health profession regulation, visit: https://engage.gov.bc.ca/healthprofessionregulation/
A backgrounder follows.
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