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Emerging concerns protocol

The emerging concerns protocol provides health and social care regulators with a clear process for sharing information in relation to fitness to practise concerns.

Emerging concerns protocol

The emerging concerns protocol provides health and social care regulators with a clear process for sharing information that may indicate risks to people who use services, their carers, families or professionals.

We use this protocol to highlight when there is a risk to:

  • people who use services (and their carers and families)
  • professionals.

The protocol was developed under the governance of the health and social care regulators forum. It ensures a clear process for raising concerns and a collaborative approach to any proposed actions.

Regulators signed up to the protocol

  • Care Quality Commission
  • General Dental Council
  • General Medical Council
  • General Osteopathic Council
  • General Pharmaceutical Council
  • General Chiropractic Council
  • General Optical Council
  • Health and Care Professions Council
  • Health Education England
  • Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman
  • Nursing and Midwifery Council
  • Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman
  • Social Work England

NHS England and NHS Improvement are also closely aligned with the protocol.

Using the protocol

A regulator should use the protocol when:

  • there might be a risk to people using services (and their carers and families) or professionals, and
  • where it would be useful to share that risk with other regulators.

No piece of information is too small to share. Depending on the information, the regulator (reporting organisation) may choose to raise it in existing meetings, such as regional joint strategic oversight groups and quality surveillance groups.

These meetings may not be appropriate if the reporting organisation needs to share the information quickly, or with regulators who do not attend. These meetings are less suitable for taking quick action on early, low-level concerns.


  1. An organisation decides that a concern needs to be shared with another regulator or regulators.
  2. The reporting organisation sets up, co-ordinates and chairs a regulatory review panel. The reporting organisation also ensures that minutes are taken.
  3. The reporting organisation records the outcomes of the review and shares them with all regulators.

Where appropriate, the reporting organisation will also share outcomes with relevant health and social care forums, such as quality surveillance groups.

Full protocol document

The full document contains more detail on the protocol and its use, including:

  • a summary of the process,
  • an example of protocol use,
  • examples to help you decide whether to use the protocol or not,
  • information for chairs of regulatory review panels,
  • a template agenda for regulatory review panels.

View the emergency concerns protocol.

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