Over the last 10 years there has been unprecedented change to rules governing health and social care professionals in the UK. Laws and regulations have become increasingly complex and navigating the maze of disjointed and outdated regulatory frameworks can be overwhelming, even for the most experienced compliance manager.
The UK health care sector is one of the most heavily regulated industries in the world and for compliance managers, keeping candidates and recruitment consultants happy takes detailed knowledge of credentialing rules, excellent negotiation and strong communication skills. Faced with a myriad of regulations and legal requirements, getting the balance right between meeting legal obligations and causing delays to the process by going above and beyond what is required, is a skilful balancing act to master.
Successfully walking the tightrope of credentialing rules relies on the knowledge and expertise of a highly skilled compliance manager. With the list of regulated healthcare professions running well into double figures, ten regulatory bodies, three hospital frameworks in England alone (Health Trust Europe, Collaborative Procurement Partnership, Crown Commercial Service), plus statutory legislation to contend with, the weight of responsibility placed on the shoulders of compliance managers is enormous.
Credentialing is a serious business and failure to meet every single employment requirement for health and social care professionals can expose the business to significant risk – including hefty fines, reputational damage and even custodial sentences – as well as having severe consequences for patient safety.
Extra pressure comes from the need to achieve 95% to pass an audit, which is a challenge when there are various documents involved which individually have to be 100% clear. If an agency fails to pass an audit, a re-audit is mandatory for them at their costs.
Agencies are not automatically or directly suspended if they fail an audit but are given a chance to re-audit a few weeks later. They must demonstrate that they can achieve compliant candidates and achieve the desired complaint standards. Suspension from any of the frameworks usually happens as the last call when it is found that there are serious critical failures or perhaps if it is proved that documents have been tampered.
Remaining compliant in an ever-changing world has never been more challenging for compliance managers.
To keep your business safe, we’re going to look at some of the most common risks associated with non-compliance, so you can keep your business running smoothly and on the right side of the law.
Changes to credentialling requirements
As all compliance managers know, keeping track of upcoming changes to frameworks or statutory regulations is critical. Not staying on top of the latest rule changes can lead to costly delays placing candidates, internal systems no longer being fit for purpose, and lack of confidence in the compliance team.
Setting aside time each week to scan the horizon gives compliance managers the headspace to make considered adjustments to existing processes and avoid a breach of compliance. It allows time to implement new processes and let compliance officers, candidates, recruitment consultants and other key stakeholders in the business know about any new regulations that must be followed.
Compliance officer training
Amidst changing technologies, new ways of working and more collaborative work practices, compliance officers will require upskilling and retraining regularly.
For healthcare compliance officers who are just starting out in their credentialing career, compliance managers provide a vital source of industry knowledge and on-the-job training.
The complexities of the NHS structure, the various categories, grades and specialties of healthcare workers, NHS Employment Check Standards, and documentation requirements can be confusing, so making sure the compliance team feel confident in their knowledge of these areas and know who to ask if they’re unsure will help avoid basic errors.
Developing an in-house training programme will help keep compliance officers remain competent, engaged and ready for change.
Poor internal communication systems can cause all sorts of issues for compliance managers, resulting in the wrong documentation being provided by candidates, and compliance officers not being made aware of regulatory changes or updates to internal processes.
For candidates who are unfamiliar with the demands of credentialling, the majority of requests being made by compliance officers may seem over the top and unnecessary. However, in 99% of cases the documents being requested have to satisfy the NHS Framework Agreements and the Home Office ‘right to work’ guidelines, and are out of the control of the compliance team.
It’s important for compliance managers to ensure compliance officers have the skills needed to communicate clearly with candidates, letting them know what documentation is required and importantly, why it is needed. Once candidates understand the reason, although they may still feel it’s unnecessary, they will at least be more willing to supply the documentation without delay.
Technology has changed the way we live life, and the way recruitment agencies are run. Today, recruitment agencies can access new technology that helps them do their job better, faster, and easier than ever before.
One of the major challenges for compliance managers operating in the competitive world of recruitment is making the credentialling process as quick and painless as possible for health and social care professionals. Nowadays, there’s an expectation from candidates and clients that systems and processes are effective, efficient and convenient.
Technology is a powerful tool and a key element for supporting internal systems and creating a positive experience for candidates. It can be hard to keep up with all of the new innovations, but it’s important for compliance managers to stay ahead of the competition and remain committed to continually improving service levels for candidates, clients and internal customers.
10 credentialing questions every compliance manager should ask
Compliance managers are instrumental in enforcing regulations at all levels of the business, as well as maintaining high ethical standards. But it’s not always easy.
So, what are the ten questions every healthcare compliance manager should ask to make sure they remain compliant?
- Does the compliance team understand NHS Employment Check Standardsand the documentation/information required for all healthcare workers?
- Do compliance officers understand how the NHS is structured?
- Has your compliance team been trained on the different categories, grades, and specialties of healthcare workers and the specific documentation required for particular roles?
- Are you confident the compliance team understands hospital Framework regulations and Home Office guidelines and have the skills to communicate to candidates the documentation requirements to permit them to work in the UK?
- Do you have reliable systems and technology in place that are capable of supporting in-house compliance processes?
- Are quality assurance checks in place to ensure candidate files are compliant before the start of a placement?
- Would your compliance officers know how to check legislative information or know who to ask within the business for help and support?
- Are communication processes in place to alert compliance officers about changes to NHS Employment Check Standards, professional registration bodies, the Home Office,and the NHS Frameworks?
- Do you undertake regular internal audits and provide regular refresher training for all staff?
- Do all staff know the escalation procedure for candidates who have fallen out of compliance, which could affect the business or maybe a breach of the NHS/Framework standards and Home Office regulations?
If you answered ‘no’ to any of the questions it’s time to carry out an internal audit and implement appropriate processes, systems, and training as a matter of urgency.
The importance of compliance managers cannot be overestimated. They are the glue that holds everything together and are central to the success of recruitment agency credentialing, helping to protect the integrity and reputation of the business, and playing a vital role in safeguarding patient care.
Getting the right balance between today’s demands and tomorrow’s must-haves is key to a successful compliance team and maintaining a high standard of compliance is crucial to surviving in the modern marketplace.