Healthcare organisations in the UK need to ensure that the services that they provide to patients are high quality, reliable, and safe. The Care Quality Commission (CQC) seeks to ensure that healthcare organisations offer the best environment for the provision of care. The General Medical Council (GMC) seeks to ensure that the clinicians within the organisation have the appropriate skills, training and experience to deliver this care. It is for this reason that the Responsible Officers Regulations from 2011 and amended in 2013, were established. These regulations set out what doctors and healthcare organisations must do to ensure the delivery of high-quality care to patients by doctors.
The healthcare organisations are designated bodies and the doctors responsible for ensuring that the doctors connected to them are the responsible officers.
Read this blog further to know about designated bodies and why your healthcare entity should become one.
What is a Designated Body?
All practising doctors in the UK benefit from maintaining a formal connection with their place of work. This may be through employment or a contractual agreement. This entity can become a GMC designated body through which a doctor’s fitness to practice can be assured. The responsibility of a designated body is to appoint a responsible officer who performs several statutory duties related to the evaluation of a doctor’s fitness to practice.
A designated body usually appoints a suitable senior clinician as their responsible officer or RO. The RO monitors the performance of doctors within the designated body and ensures that they are fit to practice. The RO arranges regular annual appraisals for the doctors and can recommend them for revalidation.
NHS healthcare organisations in the UK, such as primary care trusts and hospitals are usually considered designated bodies. Several other entities are recognised as being designated bodies. All other healthcare organisations can apply in becoming a designated body if they have a legitimate connection with at least one doctor, either through employment or through a contractual arrangement.
Being a designated body, you not only get recognition from doctors and other healthcare organisations but most importantly the ability to monitor doctors’ performance and evaluate their conduct.
Can You Choose Your Designated Body?
Healthcare organisations need to provide their practising clinicians with the necessary support for appraisal and maintaining their licence to practice. Its responsible officer, who is a licensed senior doctor ensures this service. They are responsible for providing you with appraisal and revalidation policies, providing a database for storing doctors’ data, ensuring timely appraisals and revalidation of the doctors and submitting annual returns to the General Medical Council (GMC).
Do doctors have the scope to choose their designated body? The answer is no.
This is because the medical legislation in the UK sets out a hierarchy of connections between doctors and organisations. The GMC website states which designated bodies doctors should be connected to depending on where they primarily practice. By visiting the GMC website, you can find which is your GMC designated body and where you will get your responsible officer.
How to Confirm Your Prescribed Connection to a Designated Body and Responsible Officer?
To confirm your prescribed connection to a designated body, you need to first identify who is your designated body. To do that, you should check the full list of designated bodies on the GMC website to find a designated body and responsible officer in UK. There is also an online GMC tool on their website which also helps you to identify your designated body. However, here are the key ways to confirm your connection with a designated body and responsible officer.
1. Set up your GMC account.
2. Under the revalidation section of your account, look for your designated body. If you can’t find a designated body for your healthcare organisation and any details of the responsible officer, then follow the instructions given to get it.
3. Once you have found your GMC designated body, you can contact its responsible officer to help you get connected
If you do not have a prescribed connection to a healthcare entity, follow the guidelines provided by the GMC to find out if you are able to have a prescribed connection.
Reasons to Establish a Designated Body Status for Your Healthcare Entity
Independent healthcare entities working with at least one doctor holding a connection with them through employment or contractual agreement are eligible to become designated bodies. If you believe that your healthcare entity can establish a designated body status in UK, here are the reasons why you should go for it.
• Improve their reputation
Getting designated body status will help the healthcare entity attract clinicians who wish to be able to maintain their license to practice and do not wish to be unconnected. It will also provide you with a competitive edge over other healthcare organisations that are not designated bodies. When it comes to choosing a reliable healthcare provider or partner, most organisations, that you deal with or that you may contract with, will prefer to choose organisations that hold designated body status.
• Ensure compliance and safety of doctors
As a designated body, you need to ensure that your doctors are fit to practice and are provided with the necessary guidance and support to ensure that this is the case. This duty is performed by the responsible officer of your organisation. The designated body ensures that your responsible officer has sufficient resources, funding and expertise to perform this role.
In case, the responsible officer finds there is a lack of process or policies they can recommend what actions need to be taken to ensure compliance. Having the status of a designated body makes your entity more competent and resourceful in providing treatment and care services to patients.
• Take action for resolving any issues
As a designated body, you become responsible to handle issues or concerns related to the performance of doctors within your organisation. The responsible officer of your organisation may be asked to investigate complaints and concerns and suggest appropriate actions that you should be taken.
• Ensure patient safety
As a designated body, you are better able to take care of the safety of patients. Whenever there is a concern or complaint regarding a doctor’s practice, you need to intervene and take action immediately. In serious situations, your responsible officer may need to discuss the issue with the GMC Employer Liaison Advisor.
Some of the key actions that you can undertake in case of concern regarding patient safety are investigating the doctor, developing a remediation plan and even putting restrictions on their practice. Establishing your healthcare organisation’s identity as a designated body lets you safeguard your patients by ensuring that the doctors are practising safely.
• Build your information base
A responsible officer performing his or her duties must access information of your organisation regarding the quality of services, performance of doctors, and safety of the patients. So, by becoming a designated body, you need to create and maintain information systems and make them easily accessible to the officer. You should also regularly review the information systems or databases and update them with the most appropriate information or data about your services, patients, and doctors. In short, being a designated body helps you to collect and maintain valuable information which can be used for decision-making and further improving your healthcare services.
Establish a Designated Body Status for Your Healthcare Entity With The Help of Solas Healthcare!
The role of the GMC designated body and responsible officer in UK is paramount for doctors working in the healthcare industry. If they are able to be connected to a designated body it will help them get support for the provision of their appraisals and revalidation. If you are eligible for becoming a designated body, it will ensure that you can appoint a responsible officer and take care of the statutory appraisals and revalidation duties. It will ensure that you can appraise your doctors’ performance annually.
Gaining the status of a designated body also helps you to demonstrate your professionalism and declares your compliance with the standards mentioned. So, are you thinking to establish a designated body status for your healthcare entity? If yes, then get in touch with Solas Healthcare, the best provider of responsible officer services in UK. We will help you establish whether your healthcare entity is eligible to become a designated body.