Last month, BANT issued an update on key aspects of the new five-year strategic plan for the British Association for Applied Nutrition and Nutritional Therapy (BANT). This month we take a look at the work going on in the area of “clinical governance” and “professional practice” both of which support and promote the standards of the profession.
Part of this work has involved BANT researching aspects of clinical governance in many other professional bodies to ensure that our procedures match, or are “ahead of the pack”, with reference to our peer groups. These included the British Dietetic Association, the Association for Nutrition, The General Osteopathic Council, the Health Professions Council, the Royal College of Midwives and numerous other associations for complementary and alternative medicine.
Clinical Governance – Overseen by BANT Director, Jane Nodder
The Department of Health defines clinical governance as: ‘a framework through which NHS organisations are accountable for continuously improving the quality of their services and safeguarding high standards of care by creating an environment in which excellence in clinical care will flourish’. (A First Class Service, Department of Health, July 1998).
From BANT’s perspective, clinical governance includes at least six workstreams that have, in some cases more than one project attached to them. The diagram below summarises the key areas of focus:
Some of the projects within these work streams include:
Clinical Supervision Project (Project Leader – Jane Nodder, BANT Director): This project will define and implement a system of clinical supervision for the nutritional therapy profession in the UK as part of BANT’s ongoing commitment to improve standards of practice and patient care across the profession, and to meet standards of best practice that exist in other healthcare professions with differing regulatory bodies. So far, the project team has defined a detailed proposal for a possible approach to clinical supervision. The next step is recruit a Project Manager to take the project into an implementation phase starting with a ‘pilot’.
Jane Nodder says: ‘as a professional body it is vital that BANT provides the tools, processes and procedures practitioners need to deliver the highest quality of care to their patients. In addition, we absolutely need to focus on continually improving standards of clinical governance for the longer-term future of our profession’.
CPD Audit of Logged CPD (Project Leader – Elisabeth Foot, Chair of BANT CPD Committee): This project is developing processes to ensure that all BANT members meet the mandatory requirement to complete an annual quota of CPD from January 2013. The project will also define action(s) that can be taken with any members who do not meet the requirement.
Practitioner Website Audit (Project Leader – Louise Carder, BANT Director and Head of BANT Communications): This project will develop and implement an approach for auditing the websites of BANT members to ensure they are compliant with the relevant EU Rules and Regulations, CAP code/ ASA rules, the BANT Code of Professional Practice and BANT guidelines. The project will also define action(s) that will be taken with any members whose websites are ‘non-compliant’.
Another aspect of this project is to consider ways to improve members’ understanding of the complexities of the CAP code/ASA rules and foster a greater appreciation of the importance of compliance in general to reduce the risk of the nutritional therapy profession becoming a target for criticism.
Practice Standards The Practice Standards workstream covers three projects: Fitness to Practice, Return to Practice and Scope of Practice. One of these is discussed below:
Fitness to Practice (Project Leader Deborah Colson, BANT Director): This project is considering measures to ensure that all current, and future, BANT members are fit to practice. Fitness to Practice means that BANT members:
- are of good character
- do not have a health condition that would affect their ability to practise
- adhere to standards of professional conduct, performance and ethics
- meet standards of proficiency
- maintain (and record) required levels of appropriate CPD.
Professional Practice – Overseen by Project Leader Catherine Honeywell, Chair of the PPC Committee)
Working closely with the projects in the Clinical Governance workstream, the Professional Practice Committee (PPC) sets standards for nutritional therapists in the BANT Code of Professional Practice and monitors their implementation to help members practise safely, effectively and legally. The PPC also maintains a clear focus on all aspects of professional practice including essential links with BANT’s other core objectives relating to training, education and research. Its overall strategy covers:
- advising members, where there is uncertainty, on how to apply the Code.
- investigating complaints against BANT members by another BANT member or from members of the public against members who are registered with CNHC where the complaint falls outside the scope of CNHC.
- investigating all complaints from members of the public against BANT members who are not registered with CNHC.
- liaising with BANT Council to make sure that all projects tie in with the Code.
- raising awareness amongst BANT members of the professional standards required for all NT consultations.
- ensuring that the Code remains relevant and reflects advances in professional practice
Catherine Honeywell, says ‘BANT needs to improve transparency within the nutritional therapy profession and provide the public with a better understanding of the high standards of professional conduct and proficiency they can expect when they consult a BANT member practitioner’.
As you can see, BANT is continuing to champion the nutritional therapy profession as a primary healthcare option for the future. If you are a nutritional therapist and are committed to the future success of your profession, we urge you to show your support and join BANT if you have not already done so.