The multi-party steering committee in British Columbia has released recommendations to modernize the province’s health profession regulatory system.
The committee, headed by Health Minister Adrian Dix, believes that these recommendations help the province take the next step to ensure patient safety and improved transparency.
“We’re fully invested in the goal to put patients first and the implementation of these recommendations will help strengthen the regulatory colleges’ ability to deliver on their mandate to protect the public,” said Adrian Dix, Minister of Health and chair of the steering committee. “I want to thank partners and members of the public for their input. We received over 1,780 written submissions and 4,018 surveys in the consultations. This is an area we are passionate about improving and evidently, so are you.”
In a press release, members of the steering committee, including Dix, Norm Letnick, health critic for the official Opposition, and Sonia Furstenau, health critic and house leader of the third party, said they reviewed feedback from the public, health professionals, regulators, associations, Indigenous partners, unions and health authorities to build the recommendations.
These recommendations will be presented to the executive council for their consideration, according to the release. If there is agreeance from members of the executive council, the recommendations will be drafted and brought forward to the legislative assembly.
The multi-party steering committee states that the aim of these recommendations is “improving the overall effectiveness of the system, strengthen governance and oversight, and increase transparency for the public.”
One of the main recommendations presented by the committee is to reduce the number of regulatory colleges from 20 to six. The committee believes this will “improve efficiency and support the shift toward team-based care.”
These six consolidated health regulators include:
1. Regulatory college of complementary and alternative health and care professionals, to include chiropractors, massage therapists, naturopathic physicians, traditional Chinese medicine practitioners and acupuncturists
2. Regulatory college of allied health and care professionals, to include dietitians, occupational therapists, opticians, optometrists, physical therapists, psychologists, speech and hearing professionals, and diagnostic and therapeutic professions (clinical perfusionists, respiratory therapists, radiation therapists and medical laboratory technologists)
3. An oral health regulatory college, to include certified dental assistants, dental hygienists, dental technicians, dental therapists, dentists and denturists.
4. College of Pharmacists of BC
5. British Columbia College of Nursing Professionals, to include midwives
6. College of Physicians and Surgeons of BC, including podiatrists
A new complaints process is also being recommended to “ensure fairness of investigations and the oversight body will be taking over the role of discipline to ensure the penalties are consistent and fair across professions and colleges.”
The multi-steering committee believes that this consolidation of the regulatory system will bring B.C. into “the 21st century,” while ensuring that the system works for patients.
“We’re working as a team on this issue because we all think that appropriate and safe health-care is a priority for all British Columbians,” Letnick said. “We’re impressed with the level of feedback and have considered all recommendations carefully as we propose changes for better care.”
Health regulation in British Columbia sets and enforces the standards of professional behaviour, competence and ethics in the day-to-day interactions between patients and health professionals.
“The committee felt that transparency and patient safety was one of the top concerns, and the public shares those feelings,” Furstenau said. “We are listening, and we are moving forward with our efforts to create safer, leaner and more-efficient health profession regulation.”
In response to concerns regarding the College of Dental Surgeons of British Columbia, Dix took a “significant step” in 2018 by launching a review into the administrative and operational practices of the college.
Harry Cayton, former chief executive of the United Kingdom’s Professional Standards Authority, was tasked to conduct the review. Cayton was further asked to review the Health Professions Act and its regulations, make recommendations, and advise the steering committee in its work to renew and improve the health regulatory system in B.C.
These recommendations follow a 2019 report.