UK Government

Department of Health: Chief executive announced for new adjudication body for health professionals

Press Release   •   Feb 19, 2010 09:29 GMT

Stephen Shaw CBE has been appointed as the first chief executive of the Office of the Health Professions Adjudicator (OHPA), the Department of Health announced today.

The chief executive will take forward the important task of establishing this new independent body, which from 2011 will adjudicate on fitness to practise cases brought before it by the General Medical Council (GMC) and the General Optical Council (GOC).

The GMC and GOC will continue their current role regarding doctors, dispensing opticians and optometrists, in setting standards of practice, investigating complaints and deciding whether to refer concerns about a professional’s fitness to practise to an OHPA panel for a hearing. This separation will further demonstrate that decisions are fair and effective, separate from the regulators, the professions and Government.

Before the OHPA formally begins its new role in April 2011, its new chief executive will oversee a wide public consultation about its procedural rules to ensure that all stakeholders are able to participate in the development of how it will operate.

Walter Merricks, chair of the OHPA board said:

“Stephen Shaw has a distinguished record of achievement in a career of exceptional public service and the board is delighted at his appointment.

“He has experience of heading an important public office in a challenging environment, having built and led senior management teams both in the charitable and public sectors.

“He has operated in a judicial environment as a member of the Parole Board’s review committee, and having himself conducted major inquiries.

“Stephen has previous experience of healthcare regulation through his role in conducting fatal incident investigations into deaths in custody which required him to commission clinical reviews involving the GMC.”

Stephen Shaw said:

“The establishment of OHPA represents a great opportunity both to enhance public confidence in the health professions and to deliver a lean and consistent adjudicatory process in fitness to practise cases.

“As the inaugural chief executive, I want OHPA to become a learning organisation, with close relationships with our stakeholders, and regularly feeding back to the adjudicatory panels and to the professions we oversee.

“There is a very challenging agenda ahead – not least in the run-up to 1 April next year – but I am looking forward to working with colleagues to establish OHPA as a nationally and internationally recognised centre of excellence. “

This appointment has been made by the Appointments Commission on behalf of the Privy Council under the terms of the Health and Social Care Act 2008 following a fair and open competition. Mr Shaw is expected to take up his appointment in early May.

Notes to editors

  • Media enquiries to Carol Bewick, transitional Communications Director of OHPA on 020 7763 7685
  • Stephen Shaw CBE was appointed as Prisons Ombudsman in 1999. Three years later his remit was extended to take in complaints against the National Probation Service (NPS) from those under supervision in the community. His remit was further extended to take in complaints from those in immigration detention in October 2006. From 2004 his office has been responsible for the investigation of all deaths in prisons and immigration removal centres, as well as the deaths of residents of NPS hostels (approved premises). Mr Shaw’s office conducts around 200 such investigations each year. Between 1981 and 1999 he was director of the Prison Reform Trust. His earlier career included research for the Home Office and the National Association for the Care and Resettlement of Offenders.He holds a degree in economics and politics from the University of Warwick and postgraduate degrees in economic and social history from the universities of Leeds and Kent.
  • The White Paper, ‘Trust, Assurance and Safety’ set out the Government’s intention to establish a new Office of the Health Professions Adjudicator which will have functions (across the whole of the UK) in relation to the professions regulated by the Medical Act 1983 and subsequently the Opticians Act 1989.  These proposals were carried into legislation in Part 2 of the Health and Social Care Act 2008.
  • The board of the OHPA (which Mr Shaw will join) consists of Walter Merricks CBE (Chair), Dame Janet Finch, Pamela Charlwood, and Andrew Colquhoun.
  • The Office of the Health Professions Adjudicator (OHPA) will be entirely independent from government. Independent adjudication is intended to further enhance confidence in the decision making process around fitness to practise.
  • Contacts

    NDS Enquiries
    Phone: For enquiries please contact the above department