Responsible officers and the HR team

The Medical Profession (Responsible Officer) Regulations came into force on 1 January 2011. They were amended on 1 April 2013 (The Medical Profession (Responsible Officers) (Amendment) Regulations 2013).

The regulations outline a number of duties that will have considerable overlap with HR processes.

HR can support responsible officers (RO) with:

  • systems and procedural expertise
  • advice on employee relations and employment law
  • resources for case management and case investigation
  • training and induction.

ROs and HR – working together:

  • Establish working relationships between the RO and HR Director and also with the individuals who will be working alongside and supporting you.
  • Review current pre-employment and pre-contract engagement check processes and make any necessary amendments – for example recording the name of the RO of all doctors who carry out work in your organisation for any period of time.
  • Ensure policies and procedures for investigating and handling concerns are in place and aligned with those for other employees and those of their higher level responsible officer.
  • Identify with HR who in the organisation could act as a case manager or investigator when a concern about a doctor does arise.
  • Look at the training requirements of appraisers, case managers and case investigators and explore how HR can assist in this area.
  • A unified HR and RO record may well be beneficial – HR will be able to guide on record keeping and storage requirements.
  • Review processes for the medical workforce against processes for other groups of professional staff to ensure equity and consistency.

Pre-engagement background checks

Prior to a designated body entering into contracts of employment, or contract for the provision of services, with medical practitioners, the responsible officer regulations require responsible officers to ensure that medical practitioners have:

  • qualifications and experience appropriate to the work to be performed;
  • sufficient knowledge of the English language necessary for the work to be performed in a safe and competent manner;
  • appropriate references (which are obtained and checked); and
  • verified their identity

Designated bodies will therefore need to support their responsible officers in carrying out these duties.

The following FAQs can be found here:

  • How will responsible officers (ROs) make decisions on language competency?
  • Do responsible officers have the autonomy to accept other language tests?
  • How will responsible officers evaluate the level and relevance of English language qualifications awarded in other EU countries?
  • What will happen with doctors already practising in this country if there is concern regarding their level of English – how are ROs expected to respond to this or even judge if there is a concern?

Guidance supporting organisations engaging with locums and doctors in short-term placements