Emerging concerns protocol

Published: 15 June 2021 Page last updated: 15 June 2021

The protocol provides a process for health and social care regulators to share information that may indicate risks to people using services, their carers, families or professionals.

The protocol strengthens existing arrangements, providing a clear mechanism for raising concerns and ensuring a collaborative approach to any proposed actions.

It was developed under the governance of the Health and Social Care Regulators Forum.

Read the full document

Signatories to the protocol

  • Care Quality Commission
  • General Dental Council
  • General Medical Council
  • General Osteopathic Council
  • General Pharmaceutical Council
  • General Chiropractic Council
  • General Optical Council
  • Health and Care Professions Council
  • Health Education England
  • Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman
  • Nursing and Midwifery Council
  • Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman
  • Social Work England

NHS England and NHS Improvement are also closely aligned with the protocol.

Using the protocol

A signatory should use the protocol when there might be a risk to people using services, their families and carers, or professionals, and where it would be useful to share that risk with other regulators. No piece of information is too small to share.

Depending on the information, the signatory may choose to use existing meetings, such as Regional Joint Strategic Oversight Groups and Quality Surveillance Groups to share information. However, these may not be appropriate if the information needs to be shared quickly. The information may also need to be shared with signatories who don’t attend these meetings. These meetings are also less suitable for taking quick action on early, low-level concerns.

The process

  1. An organisation has a concern that they decide needs to be shared with another regulator or regulators
  2. A Regulatory Review Panel meeting is set up, coordinated, chaired and minuted by the reporting organisation
  3. The outcomes of the review are recorded and shared with all signatories

Where appropriate, the outcomes will also be shared with relevant health and social care forums, for example, Quality Surveillance Groups.

More information

The full document contains more detail on the protocol and its use, including:

  1. A summary of the process
  2. An example of protocol use (Annex B)
  3. A series of questions to help you to decide whether to use the protocol or not (Annex D)
  4. Information for Chairs of Regulatory Review Panels (Annex E)
  5. A template agenda for Regulatory Review Panels (Annex F)

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