Driven by New Care Models and Out of Hospital Care, the healthcare sector is experiencing unprecedented change. Keeping ahead of the new regulation, legal and compliance implications is increasingly challenging and can pose particular difficulties for GP organisations. We spoke to a number of experts about how to stay in front of the curve.
New workforce, new risks?
The increased number of federations, as well as super practices and hubs, means that we’re seeing more people involved in traditional GP roles: many nurses are prescribing, for example, and pharmacists are involved in medication reviews. Dr Helen Hartley, Head of Underwriting Operations & Deputy Head of Underwriting Policy at Medical Protection, says that although “this offers many advantages to GPs and patients”, it’s important to be aware that these new responsibilities could increase vulnerability to litigation and regulatory issues. Any GP who is overseeing non-GPs with developed roles could also be criticised if deemed to be inappropriately delegating tasks.
Tackling risk: how we can help
Julie Price, Head of Risk Management and Education Consultancy at Medical Protection, recognises the challenges of keeping up with regulatory changes and complying with national standards from organisations like the CQC. She advocates using a Clinical Risk Self Assessment, which is a proven risk-busting tool that is set up by her risk management and education team. As federation groups are coming together, they’re inviting Medical Protection to help. This is invaluable, as we are able to offer an objective, overarching view of the potential issues surrounding a group of practices. With our help, individual practices are also able to see their own risks. We will put forward practical solutions, that can then be agreed to help deliver a consistent, patient-centred service across all practices within the federation or group.
Link in with professional bodies
Ross Clark, partner at specialist health lawyers Hempsons, advises practices to surround themselves with a team of professionals, saying “your lawyers, your accountants should be disseminating information to you, making you aware of key changes”. His practice has a range of communications including newsletters, tweets and a website to keep their clients abreast of changes. And accountants will be doing this too.
In addition, a number of organisations such as the RCGP, the BMA, the National Association of Primary Care, your indemnity provider (such as Medical Protection) and journals will be doing the same. He points out that each will be coming at the issue from different angles, but can disseminate information on forthcoming changes to legislation that will affect practices.
How Medical Protection can support you
Julie Price points out that Medical Protection can help too. Both members and non-members can access the Medical Protection website and find risk management articles, as well as Medical Protection journals. All of these can help practices keep abreast of changes. Julie says the information offered is of paramount importance, particularly to federations and corporates in light of the changes of clinical practice.
Dr Helen Hartley reinforces the point that by engaging with Medical Protection at an early stage, indemnity requirements for the organisation can be considered from the outset.