The model of credentialing, as currently implemented in the UK by several NHS Trusts, combines two distinct, but related concepts: credentialing and access management. We fully support the principles behind credentialing: the need to have a robust process for managing interactions between staff from medical technology companies and healthcare professionals and patients.
Credentialing is about establishing the staff's qualifications and legitimacy. Typically this is an objective evaluation of the individual’s credentials for:
- providing a particular service
- their training or experience
- compliance with health and safety requirements.
Access management is about controlling entry to healthcare premises or other controlled areas. This can be on patient safety grounds and/or the control of sales activity to support procurement processes. Access management only involves credentialing in that documentation may be checked before access is granted. Access management can also take the form of mandated appointment systems.
Companies have a duty to make sure their staff are properly qualified for the roles they perform, particularly in areas where they are in contact with patients or patient data.
From a care organisation perspective, hospitals need to ensure that people entering care settings are appropriately trained and qualified and can substantiate that.
To ensure that processes are the most effective and cost-efficient, industry, NHS England and the Department of Health are working together to establish a national credentialing process. The working group has identified principles and standards that will support NHS and industry collaborative working.
These standards will be incorporated into a national register that will:
- Provide a single point of registration for Life Science industry personnel, enabling NHS staff to verify an individual’s status against agreed criteria
- Establish, and periodically validate against, minimum acceptable standards for registrants and training provision
- Maintain the required standards of conduct, education, training and health & safety criteria
- Support Trusts to standardise credentialing practices and support management of conflicts of interest
- Support the improvement of standards, without restricting access
- Be independently accredited by the Professional Standards Authority (PSA) to ensure robust oversight and governance
The standards outlined in the register will be supported by tiered criteria, to ensure appropriate requirements and associated checks, without imposing unnecessary bureaucracy.