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Health Professional Regulations

There are a variety of different organisations that regulate healthcare throughout the UK in a various way. While some of the regulatory bodies assess the safety and quality of services provided, such as the Regulation and Quality Improvement Agency in Nothern Ireland and the care Quality Commission in England. Others look at the safety and quality of medical devices and actual medicines, like the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency.

Below we have provided brief outlines of each of the nine regulatory bodies. Six of the biggest and most important of those bodies each have a page on this site dedicated to them.

General Chiropractic Council

The General Chiropractic Council is a parliament-established body that regulates and helps with the development of the chiropractic profession. It was brought into power by the Chiropractors Act 1994 and has three main duties:

Protection of members of the general public by the establishment and operation of a scheme of statutory regulation for chiropractors. This is similar to arrangements in place for other health professionals.

Setting standards for Chiropractic practice, conduct and education.

Ensuring the development of the chiropractic profession, with the use of a model for constant improvement in the practice.

General Dental Council

The General Dental Council is the organisation that regulates all dental professionals throughout the UK. Therefore, all professionals working in the field of dentistry in the UK must be registered with the GDC to work, including:

  • Dentists,
  • Dental Technicians
  • Dental Therapists
  • Orthodontic Therapists
  • Dental Hygienists
  • Clinical Dental Technicians
  • Dental Nurses

Their purpose is to provide protection for the general public through regulation of dental teams. They do this by:

  • Registering all qualified dental professionals
  • Establishing standards for practice and conduct in dentistry
  • Ensuring quality dental education is available
  • Ensuring all professionals stay up-to-date
  • Providing patients with complaints about their dentists or other dental care specialists
  • Working hard to strengthen the level of protection patients have

General Medical Council

The General Medical Council is the organisation that protects medical patients and has the role of improving medical practice and education throughout the UK.

Their role involves:

  • Deciding the doctors in the UK that are qualified to practice
  • Overseeing medical training and education in the UK
  • Setting standards for doctors to follow
  • Taking action, when necessary, to prevent doctors from putting patient safety or the confidence in doctors that the general public have, at risk

The mandate of the organisation is outlined in the Medical Act of 1983 and covers

  • Their statutory purpose
  • GMC governance and how members are appointed
  • Their responsibilities to medical registration, revalidation and education of doctors, and providing guidance to all doctors on professional ethics, performance and conduct.

General Optical Council

The General Optical Council was established as a regulatory body for optical professionals throughout the UK. There are over 24,000 optometrists, optical businesses, student opticians and dispensing opticians registered with the GOC. The main functions of the GOC are:

  • Establishing standards for education, training, performance and conduct in all optical professions
  • Approving the qualifications that eventually lead to individuals being registered
  • Keeping a registered of all individuals that are either fully qualified and deemed fit to practice, carry out business as dispensing opticians or optometrists or train individuals to do so.
  • The investigation and action involved when it is found that the fitness to practice, carry on business or train of registrants is impaired in some way.

General Osteopathic Council

The General Osteopathic Council is the organisation that regulates osteopathic practice throughout the UK. It is a legal stipulation that all osteopaths should be registered with the General Osteopathic Council if they want to practice in the country.

Its main objectives are:

  • Protecting and promoting the well-being and safety of members of the public and maintaining it.
  • Maintaining and promoting the confidence of members of the public in the osteopathic profession
  • Maintaining and promoting strict of professional conduct and standards for all members.

General Pharmaceutical Council

The General Pharmaceutical Council is the organisation that regulates all pharmacies, pharmacy technicians and pharmacists in the UK. They work to improve and ensure that high standards of care are provided to members of the public by pharmacy services.

Health Professions Council

The Health & Care Professions Council is the organisation that protects members of the public, by keeping registration of health and care professionals who meet their specific standards for their professional health, behaviour, skills and training.

  • Professions that are currently regulated by the HCPC include:
  • Language and Speech Therapists
  • Social Workers in England
  • Radiographers
  • Orthotists/Prosthetists
  • Practitioner Psychologists
  • Physiotherapists
  • Paramedics
  • Orthoptists
  • Operating Department Practitioners
  • Occupational therapists
  • Hearing Aid Dispensers
  • Dieticians
  • Clinical Scientists
  • Podiatrists/Chiropodists,
  • Biomedical Scientists
  • Arts Therapists

Anyone working with one of the titles above in the UK must be registered with the HCPC.

Nursing & Midwifery Council

The Nursing and Midwifery Council is the organisation that regulates all nurses and midwives practicing throughout the UK. They are there to provide protection for members of the general public and do this by setting standards in education and training, conduct and performance to ensure that midwives and nurses deliver a high standard of healthcare in their careers.

Pharmaceutical Society of Northern Ireland

The Pharmaceutical Society of Northern Ireland is the organisation that was established in the Pharmacy and Poisons Act 1925 (NI) and has the main purpose of:

  • Advancing pharmacy and chemistry
  • Promotion of education and application of knowledge
  • Promoting, safeguarding and maintaining the interests of Society members with their exercise in the pharmacy profession
  • Execution of all functions that are entrusted to the Society
  • Providing relief for all distressed persons, including:
  1. Society members
  2. Anyone who has been Society students, previous members of Society, apprentices of pharmaceutical chemists, druggists, chemists
  3. Any surviving spouses, civil partners, deceased persons’ orphans or dependants who were members of the Society or registered in a similar way to the above