The Health and Care Professions Council’s (HCPC) has significantly fallen short of standards of good fitness to practise standards according to the PSA.

The outcome of the HCPC’s annual review by the Professional Standards Authority reveals that HCPC has only met one of the four standards of good fitness to practise standards.

For a number of years, the PSA has reported significant concerns about the HCPC’s fitness to practise performance. Concerns in relation to timeliness, decision making, risk assessments and ensuring parties are supported to participate in the process have been identified.

The HCPC had not met:

Standard 15 – The HCPC’s process for examining and investigating cases is fair, proportionate, deals with cases as quickly as is consistent with a fair resolution of the case and ensures that appropriate evidence is available to support decision-makers to reach a fair decision that protects the public at each stage of the process.

Standard 16 – The HCPC ensures that all decisions are made in accordance withits processes, are proportionate, consistent, and fair, take account of the statutory objectives, the regulator’s standards and the relevant case law and prioritise patient and service user safety.

Standard 17 – The HCPC identifies and prioritises all cases which suggest a serious risk to the safety of patients or service users and seeks interim orders where appropriate.

Standard 18 – All parties to a complaint are supported to participate effectively in the process.

The PSA acknowledged that the HCPC has invested significant resources in its fitness to practise process and developed a fitness to practise improvement programme in response to the concerns identified in previous reports. The programme was implemented in late 2020 and has continued into 2021, and the PSA acknowledge that the programme will take some time to embed and for potential benefits to be realised.

However, as the work begun in late 2020 it will not have affected performance in this review period. The PSA therefore determined that the HCPC had not met Standard 15, 16, 17 and 18, because it has not seen tangible evidence of the impact of improvement actions during the review period.

HCPC response to PSA Performance Review

HCPC welcomes the Professional Standard Authority’s (PSA) performance review report. We are pleased that we continue to meet the standards relating to education, guidance and standards and registration, and welcome the recognition of our progress towards achieving those standards that have not been met this year.

We are the first regulator to undergo a PSA review of our performance during the pandemic and are pleased that the PSA acknowledged that we maintained and indeed improved, during a highly demanding 12-month period.

We are committed to meeting all the PSA’s Fitness to Practise standards and welcome the PSA’s recognition of our energy and commitment to accelerating the pace of our improvement programme, which it says should have a positive impact. We remain committed over the coming months to the successful implementation and embedding of the Fitness to Practise improvement programme.

We have also made significant improvements in EDI, having made a considerable investment in our data collection, ensuring that policies and procedures are more accurately tailored to meet the needs of our registrants. We were particularly pleased that the PSA noted that it received positive feedback about our 2021-26 EDI strategy. This is an issue which is a priority for HCPC us and we have a clear plan in place to meet the PSA standards.

The HCPC continues on its journey to transform and innovate, improving how we support our registrants and keep patients and service users safe. We have undertaken many new initiatives, aimed at increasing our ability to protect patients and service users, supporting our registrants and improving our performance against PSA standards.

To further this transformation and innovation, we are championing the need for regulatory reform. We fully welcome the Department of Health and Social Care’s review of professional healthcare regulation in the UK and we look forward to continuing to work with the Department on this once in a generation opportunity to create a system of health care regulation in the UK that supports high quality, flexible and multi-disciplinary patient centred care.

HCPC is the only truly multi-profession regulator in the UK. We regulate 15 health and care professions. If the regulatory system is to keep pace and support the rapidly changing nature of how health and care services are delivered, we suggest that reforms need to recognise the benefits that multi-profession regulation can bring as well as the contribution it can make to workforce planning, career development and continuing professionalism.

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