The HCPC has met all the Standards of Good Regulation for Guidance and Standards, Education and Training, and Registration. The six Fitness to Practise Standards the HCPC failed to meet in our previous two reviews, still remain unmet. However, the HCPC has taken action to address our concerns.
Guidance and Standards: additional guidance helps registrants apply the regulator's standards
The HCPC continues to produce additional guidance to help registrants understand how they should apply its standards. This year it published a blog which focused on end of life care and spoke about the national framework introduced by the government. This blog also directed registrants to a specialist website where they could get more information. Another blog reminded registrants about the importance of maintaining confidentiality and provided advice on how to use the social media platforms WhatsApp, LinkedIn and Twitter with patients and service users.
Education and Training: standards for education and training are linked to standards for registrants
This year the HCPC has acted to ensure its Standards for Education and Training (SET) remain linked to the Standards of Conduct, Performance and Ethics (SCPE). Following a consultation on proposals to change the compulsory level of education necessary for entry onto the register for paramedics, the HCPC raised the SET threshold level to degree-level. The HCPC decided to change the SET level for paramedics for several reasons: most of its existing approved paramedic courses achieve a qualification which exceeds the current threshold; the service models in the profession have changed in recent years, and external reports have recommended that degree qualified paramedics are necessary to improve outcomes for service users. This change will be introduced in September 2021.
Registration: the registration process is efficient, transparent, secure and continuously improving
We conducted a targeted review of this Standard because we received information about delays in the time taken to process applications from applicants who obtained their qualifications outside the EU/EEA area. We wanted to understand what was causing the delays. The HCPC outlined its arrangements for processing these applications and noted that the timeframes in the information we received included parts of the registration process outside its control. It also told us it was meeting its service standards. We reviewed the HCPC’s performance in this area over the last three years and noted that the delays reported to us accounted for approximately four per cent of the applications received from this group of applicants. We decided that we could not say these delays indicated a problem with the HCPC registration processes. We noted that the information we received from the HCPC might not be recording the total time taken to process initial registration applications. We are aware that this might be the case across the other regulators that we oversee and will look at this issue as part of our wider work on the performance of the regulators.
Fitness to Practise
The HCPC has failed to meet six of the fitness to Practise Standards in our previous two reviews. For our 2018/19 review, these Standards still remain unmet (Standards 1, 3, 4, 5, 6 and 8). We initially identified concerns about these Standards in our 2016/17 performance review when we detected problems with how the HCPC managed its initial assessment and investigation of complaints. The HCPC accepted our concerns and developed an improvement plan to address them. We carried out a targeted review of these Standards this year. The HCPC has made significant changes to its policies, procedures and processes and it anticipates that these will successfully address our concerns. It would not have been possible for us to judge the impact of these changes this year as some of them were not completed in the period under review. As a result, we cannot say that the HCPC has met these Standards this year. We will assess the impact of these changes when we audit the HCPC’s performance next year.