The positive impact of regulation
Regulation is a word that often elicits a groan or a roll of the eyes. But, despite the reservations from some, the importance of regulation and its valuable role in protecting public interest and upholding professional standards cannot be overlooked.
Crucially, we can’t ignore the fact that regulation gives people confidence. When we visit a solicitor or GP we are reassured that these professions are regulated. It sets our expectations regarding the quality of service we will receive.
The chiropractic profession is no different. According to the recent GCC public perceptions research, almost three-quarters (74%) of respondents recognise that chiropractic is an area of healthcare that is regulated. The research also reinforces the view that regulation matters, with almost 80% of respondents stating that regulation and professional standards have a positive impact on care.
Let’s talk about regulation
The public perception research found that, before considering treatment, patients want to be able to check that a practitioner is registered with the GCC. They want reassurance that their chiropractor has the appropriate qualifications.
The findings suggest there is value in talking to patients about regulation and explaining what this means for them in terms of quality of care. Using the approved I’m registered with the GCC logo also gives patients and members of the public confidence that the practitioner has a valid registration with the GCC.
Why regulation matters to practitioners
Regulations and standards are necessary in chiropractic to provide safe and quality healthcare to every patient. They give credibility to the chiropractic profession and demonstrate that chiropractors operate professionally and ethically.
Importantly, professional regulation supports qualified and competent professionals by removing from the register those who fail to meet the high professional standards expected of practitioners, thus protecting patient safety and also the reputation of the profession.
The GCC guards the use of the title ‘chiropractor’ which cannot be used by a practitioner unless they are registered. Those who practise without registering with the GCC operate in the shadow of the law and are likely to lose the trust and confidence of their patients.
The role of a regulator
The role of a regulator is different to that of a trade or industry body. The primary focus of a regulator such as the GCC is public safety and protection.
The GCC works to remind practitioners of their professional obligations and offers guidance in order to drive standards of patient care. The Code of Practice provides practical advice to practitioners about appropriate conduct and practice.
The role of a regulator is to set the overarching professional standards. At the same time, the GCC works to encourage and support registrants to exercise professional judgment within the framework of those standards.
Listening to registrants
Regulation across all professions can sometimes be challenging and the GCC recognises the frustration felt by some registrants. In line with modern approaches to regulation more generally, the GCC’s regulatory approach is shifting ‘upstream’ towards learning lessons and encouraging good practice.
However, the GCC is currently governed by a highly inflexible statutory framework which limits its ability to regulate in a modern way. Legislative reform would allow greater flexibility in how the GCC regulates, particularly in the area of fitness to practice.
The professionalism of those working in chiropractic is clear. The vast majority of chiropractors recognise the value of regulation and are proud to be part of a profession that upholds strong professional standards.