Insight, reflection and remediation: how to prepare for a regulatory inquiry

When a professional is facing a regulatory inquiry he or she can experience an enormous amount of stress and worry. It is unsurprising that a regulatory investigation can have an adverse effect of a professional’s health and wellbeing. After all, one’s reputation, career and livelihood are potentially at risk. It can feel unfair  how is it that I being investigated when I know of others who are much more deserving of investigation?

A professional who is preparing facing a regulatory inquiry needs to start their preparation early. Preparation needs to be planned so that the professional can gain perspective and demonstrate a real understanding of the key issues. The ultimate goal is to be in a position to demonstrate insight, reflection and remediation to the regulator, and to demonstrate that this has become embedded their professional practise.

What is insight?

Insight could be described as an expectation that a person will be able to:

  • review their own performance or conduct;
  • recognise that they should have done something differently in the circumstances being considered; and
  • identify and put in place measures that will prevent a recurrence of such circumstances.

Reflection

The leaders of nine healthcare regulators have joined forces to stress the benefits and importance of good reflection among professionals in the healthcare sector.

The statement Benefits of becoming a reflective practitioner (which has been produced by the GDC, GMC and others) reinforces that reflection is a key element of professional development. It states that registrants will never be asked by regulators to provide their personal reflective notes to investigate a concern about them.

What professionals can elect to provide is reflection focussed on the issue which has resulted in the regulatory inquiry. That means identifying the issues as early as possible, reflecting on why they occurred, the impact on others, and what can be done to prevent similar issues occurring again.

Remediation

Registrants should develop a focussed remediation action plan to address the relevant issues. Assistance  can be sought from the appropriate Postgraduate Dental Deans. The action plan should identify the issues that need to be addressed, and define the acceptable evidence of the outcome and the date on which it will be completed. If the action plan is extensive it may be helpful to divide it into smaller sections with short deadlines. The action plan can be incorporated into the overall personal development plan (PDP).

A registrant who starts remediation early is more likely to be in a position to demonstrate that their remediation is embedded. Someone who leaves their remediation to the last minute is unlikely to be able persuade the regulator of their remediation.

Seek advice

When facing a regulatory inquiry, it is crucial to seek professional advice and support as soon as possible. For most doctors and dentists, the first port of call is their defence organisation or indemnity provider. It is important to gain perspective and prepare fully for the inquiry. The professional’s defence team will provide appropriate guidance. Preparation normally includes: understanding the issues, detailed reflection, demonstrating insight, demonstrating remediation. The ultimate aim is to assure the regulator that the risk of recurrence of the issue that resulted in the inquiry is low.

Each professional’s situation is different, and their remediation needs to be focussed on the relevant issues. Persuasive evidence will need to be provided to the regulator – this is not a tick box exercise, but a demonstration of the remediation process by providing a portfolio of evidence of insight, reflection and remediation.

The key to success

1) Seek professional advice. It is really not advisable to try to deal with regulatory issues without the assistance of an appropriately experienced defence team.

2) A professional who demonstrates appropriate insight, reflection and remediation is far less likely to have restrictive action taken on their registration.

I help professionals who are facing regulatory inquiries. Contact me for guidance in relation to insight, reflection, and remediation.