Collaborative Self‑Regulation project

Collaborative self-regulation of regulated health professions in Nova Scotia

Between 2008 and 2012, the Dalhousie Health Law Institute has been supporting the Nova Scotia Regulated Health Professions Network as it developed the concept of interprofessional regulatory collaboration for application in Nova Scotia. 

  • In 2008, the Network established a Working Group that included Professor William Lahey to consider options for implementing interprofessional collaboration in the investigation of patient complaints. With financial support from the Nova Scotia Department of Health and Wellness and the contributions of Research Associate Leah Hutt and research assistants Alison Hopkins and Tracy Hobson, Professor William Lahey wrote a report for the Working Group entitled, Collaborative Self-Regulation and Professional Accountability in Nova Scotia’s Health Care System.
  • On the basis of this report and further work by the Working Group and the Network, the Department of Health and Wellness funded the Network in 2010 to further develop the concept of collaborative self-regulation for implementation. Specifically, the Department funded the Network so that the Working Group could consider the applicability of interprofessional collaboration to other regulatory functions and develop the outline for the legislative amendments that would be needed to enable collaboration in the regulation of health professions in Nova Scotia.
  • To complete this broader mandate, the Working Group, including Professor Lahey, was joined by Marjorie Hickey, Q.C., who is a leader in the practice of the law of professional self-regulation. 
  • In December of 2011, the Working Group completed its “Phase II” report, called Toward Collaborative Self-Regulation. It concluded that interprofessional collaboration was applicable to a wide range of the functions of Network members in protecting members of the public. It also concluded that interprofessional regulatory collaboration would best be implemented though comprehensive legislation that would enable but not require regulatory bodies to collaborate where collaboration was likely to improve the effectiveness of regulation, including in responding to or in enabling collaboration among regulated and unregulated providers of care. This legislation would also constitute the Network as a formal statutory body. After being endorsed by the broader Network, this report was submitted to and accepted by the Department of Health and Wellness.
  • With further support from the Department and with contributions from Network members, the Working Group is now working on detailed drafting instructions for the proposed enabling legislation.

This is a prime example of collaboration between policy-makers and academics and the translation of policy ideas into application.

The work of the Network builds in signficant ways on the paper written by  Professor Lahey and Professor Robert Currie on “Regulatory and medico-legal barriers to interprofessional care,” Journal of Interprofessional Care (May 2005) Supplement 1: 197-223, and on the development of the ideas in that paper in a 2007 report for the Conference Board of Canada entitled,  Achieving Public Protection Through Collaborative Self-Regulation: Reflections for a New Paradigm.  Both the paper and the report were prepared as part of Health Canada’s Interprofessional Education for Collaborative Patient-Centred Practice Initiative: see Vernon Curran, Interprofessional Educations for Collaborative Patient-Centred Practice – Research Synthesis.