The Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) has updated its standards of proficiency for the first time since 2015. The HCPC said the “changes have been made following an extensive period of engagement with a wide range of stakeholders, to seek views and develop standards in line with current professional practice.”

“The revised standards set clear expectations of registrants’ knowledge and ability in a healthcare landscape which has changed and evolved in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Updating the standards was a crucial component in fulfilling our purpose to promote excellence in the professions we regulate, and champion high quality care that the public can access safely and with confidence.”

What are the standards of proficiency?

The HCPC’s standards of proficiency describe what professionals must know, understand and be able to do in order to join and remain on our Register. They set expectations for professionals on our Register, and help make clear to the public what they should expect of a HCPC registrant.

When will the new standards come into effect?

From 1 September 2023, all registrants will have to meet the standards of proficiency relevant to their scope of practice.

How have we updated them?

The standards of proficiency include generic standards, which apply to all 15 of the professions the HCPC regulate, and standards specific to each profession. The new updates include:

  • An expansion of the role of equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI). Although the standards already included EDI requirements, these changes strengthen them, helping to promote equality in healthcare access and outcomes. We are committed to ensuring that our registrants can provide high-quality healthcare to all their service users.
  • A new standard about promoting public health and preventing ill-health. This may involve providing advice, referrals or other interventions which may not be directly connected to the reason their patient sought care. This change recognises that registrants are part of a larger healthcare system, and play a vital role in promoting public health.
  • Wording changes to move registrants away from a passive understanding of the standards towards active implementation of them. For example, we have replaced ‘be able to’ with ‘must’ at the beginning of several standards. This more active wording makes clear the expectations on registrants, and reflects the importance of registrants being autonomous and caring.
  • Changes to put patients and service users first. For example, our new standards ask registrants to take a wider range of circumstances into account when determining consent, reflecting evolving definitions of patient consent.
  • An elevation of the importance of registrants’ mental health. The previous standards were less about registrant health and more focused on fitness to practise; registrants are now required to develop and adopt clear strategies for physical and mental self-care. The new wording reflects our position as a compassionate regulator and the vital importance of registrant wellness.