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Understanding Complaints to Regulators About Paramedics in the UK and Social Workers in England: Findings from a Multi-Method Study

Austin, Zubin; van der Gaag, Anna; Gallagher, Ann; Jago, Robert; Banks, Sarah; Lucas, Grace; Zasada, Magda

Understanding Complaints to Regulators About Paramedics in the UK and Social Workers in England: Findings from a Multi-Method Study Thumbnail


Zubin Austin

Anna van der Gaag

Ann Gallagher

Robert Jago

Grace Lucas

Magda Zasada


Within the regulatory community, there has been increasing interest in the issue of proportionality in regulation — that is, using the right amount and right types of regulatory interventions to achieve the primary mandate of the regulatory community in order to serve and to protect. The Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) in the United Kingdom, one of the largest health-care regulatory bodies in the world, recently commissioned a study examining the disproportionately large number of complaints against paramedics in the UK and social workers in England. The objective of the study was to examine the nature of, and to better understand the reasons behind, this disproportionality, and to identify options and opportunities from a regulatory perspective that could be taken to address this issue. The study involved a systematic multi-methods research approach involving four key interrelated research elements: * A systematic literature review * A Delphi consultation with international experts * Interviews (n=26) and four focus groups (n=23) with UK experts, including service users and caregivers * A review of a random sample (n=284) of fitness-to-practice cases over two years across the three stages of the process (initial complaint, Investigating Committee Panel, and final hearing) Findings from this study highlight the evolving nature of both professions and the influence of a binary model of complaints adjudication that may not be sufficiently nuanced to balance public protection with practitioners' learning needs. A non-binary option for understanding complaints against practitioners is suggested in this paper, offering a process that involves and engages both employers and practitioners in a more meaningful manner.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Sep 30, 2018
Online Publication Date Oct 31, 2018
Publication Date Oct 31, 2018
Deposit Date Feb 7, 2019
Publicly Available Date Feb 8, 2019
Journal Journal of medical regulation
Print ISSN 2572-1801
Electronic ISSN 2572-1852
Publisher Federation of State Medical Boards (FSMB)
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 104
Issue 3
Pages 19-28
Public URL


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