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Standards of regulation softer for private sector

The proposals within the Government's white paper on regulation may not provide adequate provision for private sector workers, the King's Fund has warned.

In a briefing document on professional regulation, the think-tank said the white paper's proposals were constructed on the basis that professionals were NHS employees.

But the current 'enthusiasm' for non-NHS providers meant that centring plans around mechanisms such as the NHS appraisal system could cause problems.

Anna Dixon, deputy director of policy at the King's Fund, said there was a need for a system of initial licensing and relicensing that could operate in an independent provider environment.

'It's not clear at the moment from the Government proposals how that will work in practice,' she said, adding that resolving the issue must be a priority of the various advisory groups set up to expand the white paper's proposals.

The King's Fund briefing paper came as the Healthcare Commission announced it had slashed fees for independent providers by 15 per cent, and inspected 20 per cent fewer independent providers in 2006/7 than in the previous financial year, when all were inspected. All providers will still be forced to submit a 'self-assessment' each year.

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