The Department of Health is considering using prohibition orders against staff who are not covered by statutory regulations currently in place which apply to nurses and doctors.
This move would require legislation to make it enforceable and would create a list of unregulated staff who are not permitted to work in the NHS. This could apply to a whole raft of practitioners who work within the NHS such as care workers and healthcare assistants not currently overseen by a regulatory body. If an NHS employer subsequently employs someone who had been placed on this list this would amount to a criminal offence.
The Department of Health wrote a letter asking the Professional Standards Authority to look into the prospect of using prohibition orders to capture unregulated staff who pose a risk to patients and it seems it would prefer to do this without employing statutory regulation.
Last month the Professional Standards Authority advised the Department of Health that such a scheme of prohibition orders was unlikely to “foster professionalism in any meaningful way” and may negatively impact on the workforce.
Some commentators have stated that this ‘blacklist’ will duplicate the alert notice process that is already enforced in the NHS to alert other employers about employees who may pose a threat to patients or staff and as such it is unnecessary. The introduction of potential criminal charges may be looked at as a development that should recognise if employers choose to employ someone who appears on a blacklist and hence further protect patients and NHS employees.