The Professional Standards Authority (the Authority) has published its annual performance review of the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC). The HCPC’s register covers over 281,000 registrants across 15 different professions.
We have assessed the HCPC’s performance against our Standards of Good Regulation. For this review period, the HCPC has met 13 of the 18 Standards. The HCPC did not meet our new Standard in respect of equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI) as we identified gaps in the EDI information it holds about its registrants, and no analysis was completed on the data it did hold in the period under review. However, the HCPC has since sought to improve the EDI information it collects from registrants and how it uses this data. We will review these improvements in our next assessment.
The HCPC has only met one of the five Standards for fitness to practise. We have had concerns about the HCPC’s performance in fitness to practise since we audited this function in 2017, after which the HCPC implemented an improvement plan. We audited the process again this year, and while we are satisfied that the HCPC’s initial triage stage is now working appropriately, we remain concerned about a number of other areas of the HCPC’s work in fitness to practise. Only limited progress has been made in addressing our longstanding concerns about its management and investigation of cases. We also identified concerns with the quality of investigations completed by the HCPC, decision-making, record-keeping, compliance with policies, timeliness and customer service. We determined that the approach adopted in some cases had the potential to undermine public protection and public confidence in the HCPC. As a result, the HCPC did not meet Standards 15, 16, 17 and 18 which assess the key aspects of the regulators’ fitness to practise processes.
We are very concerned that poor performance against the Standards for fitness to practise by the HCPC has continued into this performance review cycle. We will be seeking urgent meetings with the Chair of the HCPC to understand how the HCPC plans to address our concerns and achieve improvement. We will also put in place regular monitoring to enable us to assess the HCPC’s progress.
We have written to the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, the Ministers in the devolved administrations and the Chair of the Health and Social Care Select Committee outlining our concerns and will keep them informed of progress.
More information about how we reached our decision is set out in our Performance Review - HCPC 2019-20 or read a summary in our snapshot.
Professional Standards Authority for Health and Social Care
Notes to the Editor
- The Professional Standards Authority for Health and Social Care oversees 10 statutory bodies that regulate health and social care professionals in the UK.
- We assess their performance and report to Parliament. We also conduct audits and investigations and can appeal fitness to practise cases to the courts if we consider that sanctions are insufficient to protect the public and it is in the public interest.
- The Standards of Good Regulation are designed to ensure that the regulators are protecting the public but also promoting confidence in health and care professionals and themselves. The Standards cover the regulators’ four core functions: setting and promoting guidance and standards for the profession; setting standards for and quality assuring the provision of education and training; maintaining a register of professionals; and taking action where a professional’s fitness to practise may be impaired.
- We also set standards for organisations holding voluntary registers for health and social care occupations and accredit those that meet them.
- We share good practice and knowledge, conduct research and introduce new ideas to our sector. We monitor policy developments in the UK and internationally and provide advice on issues relating to professional standards in health and social care.
- We do this to promote the health, safety and wellbeing of users of health and social care services and the public. We are an independent body, accountable to the UK Parliament
- Our values are – integrity, transparency, respect, fairness and teamwork – and we strive to ensure that they are at the core of our work.
- The Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) regulates the practice in the UK of arts therapists, biomedical scientists, chiropodists/podiatrists, clinical scientists, dieticians, hearing aid dispensers, occupational therapists, operating department practitioners, orthoptists, paramedics, physiotherapists, practitioner psychologists, prosthetists/orthotists, radiographers, speech and language therapists. It sets standards for the education and training of practitioners and assuring the quality of education and training provided; sets and maintains standards of conduct, performance, and ethics for practitioners and standards of proficiency for each of the professions it regulates; maintains a register of practitioners (‘registrants’) who meet those standards; sets standards of continuing professional development to ensure registrants maintain their ability to practise safely and effectively; and takes action to restrict or remove from practice individual registrants who are considered not fit to practise. As at 31 March 2020, there were 281,467 registrants on its register. Its annual registration is £90, paid over a two-year cycle.
- More information about our work and the approach we take is available at www.professionalstandards.org.uk