The The Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) recently published its 21/22 fitness to practise annual report that provides an account of its work in 2021-22 investigating fitness to practise concerns raised.
- The HCPC, as of 31 March 2022, had 297,388 registrants on its Register from the 15 professions it regulates. This was an increase of 10,474 registrants on the previous year.
- There was a 25% increase in the number of fitness to practise related concerns received by the HCPC. This amounted to 1583 complaints in 21/22.
- The majority (34%) complaints were made by the public, with self-referral and employer complaints making up the second and thirdmost highest complaints respectively.
Outcomes & SanctionsOf the 1583 complaints, the report shows that 470 were closed at the first stage of the HCPC’s investigation process, with a further 316 cases closed by an Investigating Committee Panel. “The majority of cases heard at a final hearing relate to allegations that the registrant’s fitness to practise is impaired by reason of their misconduct. Some of these cases relate to allegations about a lack of competence or a conviction.” 212 cases were concluded at final hearings where 127 sanctions were imposed.
Fitness to Practise Improvement PlanThis year the HCPC achieved a score of only 1/5 in the PSA’s assessment of the HCPC fitnes to practise work. It noted:
“The HCPC has made significant progress in delivering a number of projects designed to improve its fitness to practise processes following our serious concerns from our audit in 2020 about the quality and timeliness of this part of its work. We have seen evidence of improvement in case progression and decision-making. We will be auditing the process next year but, while acknowledging the work the HCPC has been doing, cannot yet say that the relevant fitness to practise Standards are met.”The HCPC’s work to improve its fitnes to practise processes included:
- Launched and completed a project to implement a new Fitness to Practise Case Management IT system
- Introduced legally qualified Investigating Committee Panel Chairs to improve the quality and consistency of decision making
- Completed a pilot to ‘frontload’ our fitness to practise investigations (‘frontloading’ means gathering more evidence earlier in the investigation – helping improve the quality of investigations as we are gathering evidence closer to when an incident occurred).
- Concluded or progressed our oldest cases and concluded hearings for those cases which were postponed due to COVID-19 restrictions.