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 numbers

  • 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.
Many readers may be unsurprised to read that paramedics make up the highest category of ‘profession’ that are subject to fitness to practise complaints.  The plight of paramedics, particularly in the context of self-referrals, are well reported. Second to Paramedics, Practitioner psychologist represent the second highest category of ‘profession’ that are subject to HCPC fitness to practise complaints.

 Outcomes & Sanctions

Of 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 Plan

This 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.

Andrew Smith, HCPC’s Executive Director of Regulation, said:

We have made significant progress in this financial year, however, we acknowledge that we still have work to do to meet the PSA’s five FTP Standards of Good Regulation.

“The overwhelming majority of professionals on our Register practise safely and effectively. Fewer than one percent of the professionals we regulate had a concern raised about them in 2021-2022. The number who we ultimately removed from our Register as a consequence of a concern raised about them is a fraction of this; 52 people in this financial year. We will always listen to anyone who feels they have not had safe or effective care, or who has concerns about someone on our Register.”

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