Richard MasonIn the context of my sceptical remarks in the last edition’s editorial regarding the likelihood of statutory regulation for perfusionists happening anytime soon, it is only fair that I should report that there has recently been some minor, if
potentially significant progress in this respect. On 1st February a raft of amendments to Andrew Lansley’s Health and Social Care Bill were tabled, including an insertion to Clause 232 by Baroness Finlay of Llandaff – after prompting by Steve Robins – which reads:
(1) The Health Professions Council shall establish a statutory register of clinical perfusionists;
(2) In this Act “registered clinical perfusionist” means a person recognised as such on a register maintained
by the statutory body responsible for the regulation of clinical perfusionists.
This may or may not prove to be an effective deployment of blind-side tactics, but what is strikingly clear is that the existence of this proposed amendment represents the first time in the last few years that the formalisation of our professional status is apparently being unequivocally linked to the clinical requirements of the role of the perfusionist rather than being perceived as a gift that will only be bestowed, and then grudgingly, if we are willing to navigate around any number of additional obstacles that are placed in our path, the most recent of which is, of course, Modernising Scientific Careers (MSC).
Nobody can be unaware of the fact that the Health and Social Care Bill has been one of the most controversial features of the coalition’s term in power, with all manners of doctors’ and nurses’ groups going on record as being virulently opposed to its vision of the future for the NHS. Notwithstanding this, there is a large group of politicians who are desperately keen to see the Bill become legislation, which may mean that, as the days and weeks tick away, in the context of the macro-strategy that is the essence of the Bill, the small matter of regulation of perfusionists may be viewed as something that it is easier to sign off than to defer, if only to accelerate getting the reforms into the statute book.
While it is true to say that nobody will be holding their breath in anticipation of this amendment’s resulting in a positive outcome, it has to be acknowledged that it is an eye-catching development, particularly in the light of the stagnation that has become a depressingly predictable feature of the negotiations between the Department of Health and ourselves in recent years.
It’s just that, as hinted at in the last editorial, it can’t really be about to happen, can it?