01 October 2018

Social media in professional practice

Katherine Timms, Head of Policy and Standards, explains how professionals can use social media appropriately

Just over a year ago, we published our new Guidance on social media, to help registrants navigate the complexities of this area. A year on, we are reflecting on how this guidance has helped registrants, and what more we can do to support them.

Social media has some clear benefits to health and care professionals. It helps develop individuals’ skills and knowledge, allows them to network with other professionals, helps the public understand what they do, and raises the profile of their profession.

In using social media, registrants should follow the Standards of conduct, performance and ethics. In particular, they should:


Confidentiality is an essential consideration in all areas of a professional’s practice, and is particularly important in the context of social media. Our Guidance on confidentiality talks registrants through the principles of confidentiality. We explain that any identifiable information about a service user is confidential. In the workplace this is typically understood to include information such as name, address, treatment, etc. However, identifiable information goes beyond that and can include details about a service user’s personal life, health or circumstances, or images relating to their care.

Where a registrant wishes to share service user information, they should have express consent. The service user must understand and not object to:
For consent to be valid, it must be voluntary and informed, and the person giving consent must have the capacity to make the decision.

Social media in practice

There are many social media platforms available to our registrants. We know that some use WhatsApp groups to help them network with colleagues across hospitals to ensure service user care is the best it can be; checking approaches with supervisors, and considering complex cases in a time effective way. In doing so, registrants should be mindful not to share personal details, and take care to follow employer policies.

A great deal of learning is carried out through Facebook, where colleagues undertaking weekend CPD activities come together to discuss specialist areas of practice, making use of a wider pool of individuals, available at any time. Registrants should be mindful to maintain appropriate professional boundaries and not to post inappropriate material.

LinkedIn can provide excellent networking options and opportunities to write articles and share information, but registrants should think before they post and consider who can see what they share.

Another social media platform our registrants use is Twitter; predominantly to raise the profile of their profession and reach out to the public. Twitter can be a quick and easy way to show people how dedicated and hardworking our registrants are, show the public what they do, and highlight the services they provide.

A key challenge in the use of Twitter is confidentiality. In providing health and care services, HCPC registrants’ primary consideration should be their service user; raising the profile of their profession should only ever be a secondary consideration, and should not impact the service user’s privacy or dignity. When live tweeting in order to raise the profile of the profession, registrants should take care to only share information required to achieve that objective. They should post in a modest manner; only providing the information the public needs to understand the role, and they should ensure any additional information, in particular service user identifiable information, isn’t included.

What next…

After reflecting on the use of our social media guidance over the past year, and the challenges still faced by HCPC registrants in applying this guidance, we intend to update the document with further advice and support on the topic of confidentiality.

Where to go for more information

-       Professional bodies provide guidance and advice about good practice which can help registrants meet the standards we set.

-       The Policy and Standards team at the HCPC can provide further assistance in how to apply the standards we set.

10 July 2018

Consultation on the revised Indicative Sanctions Policy

Policy officer Olivia Bird discusses our consultation on revising the current Indicative Sanction Policy, what may change and why it’s important to have your say. 

We are currently consulting on a proposed revised version of our Indicative Sanctions Policy, which sets out the principles that our Fitness to Practice (FtP) panels should consider when deciding what, if any, sanction should be applied in FtP cases.

The policy is an important one, as it aims to ensure that all FtP decisions are fair, consistent and transparent. The current policy has been kept up to date when required, for example to take account of any changes in case law. However we are now taking this opportunity to undertake a thorough review of the existing Policy and are seeking the views of our stakeholders on a revised version.

We have used market research, input from professional bodies and unions and a review of similar documents produced by other health regulators in order to put together a number of proposed changes to allow the policy to adapt to an increasingly challenging regulatory landscape.

With this in mind some proposed changes to the document include:

  • Providing clarity on what mitigation means. Following feedback from the independent market research we commissioned, we have outlined the differences between insight, remorse and apology, the relationship between these factors, and how their presence is likely to reduce the risk of harm to public and public confidence in the profession.
  • The new policy seeks to provide further clarity and detail to panels in relation to aggravating factors. We have been clearer about what aggravating factors are, providing detail on the key types and the reasons why they increase the risk to the public and public confidence in the profession.
  • The revised policy seeks to provide clarity on the differences between the sanctions available to the panel.
  • The revised policy introduces guidance on the approach panels should take at review hearings; including the purpose of those review hearings, and the factors the panel should take into account when deciding the outcome.

These are not the only changes, and we encourage registrants and other HCPC stakeholders to read the full document and respond. It is important that those who are interested in, or could be affected by, these changes take part to ensure that the policy is useful, clear and fit for purpose. 

You can respond to this consultation in one of the following ways:

By completing our easy-to-use online survey. 

By emailing us at: consultation@hcpc-uk.org

By writing to us at:
Consultation on revised Indicative Sanctions Policy
Policy and Standards Department
The Health and Care Professions Council
Park House
184 Kennington Park Road
SE11 4BU

02 July 2018

End of life care and the HCPC standards

Katherine Timms, Head of Policy and Standards, talks through end of life care and the HCPC’s standards

We know end of life care is extremely challenging and emotionally demanding, but it can also be extremely rewarding where health and care professionals have the right knowledge, skills and support.

In 2008 the then Department of Health published its End of Life Care Strategy which set out a vision for giving people approaching the end of their life more choice about where they would like to live and die.

The strategy highlighted that most people receive excellent care as their life draws to a close however, it did focus on the opportunities and the on-going challenges providing end of life care presents. In particular, that there was insufficient training available to health and care professionals in how to identify individuals approaching the end of their life, how to communicate and plan their care with them, and how to provide them with the care they need.

Ambitions for palliative and end of life care: a national framework for local action 2015-2020 (‘the ambitions’)

A great deal of work has been done since the End of Life Care Strategy was published:

new care processes have been developed;
new indicators of quality have been set;
new systems for scrutiny have been devised;
new systems for funding are under development; and
investment and innovation has led to significant progress, particularly in reversing the long term increase in the numbers dying in hospital.

The ambitions build on these positive changes and seek to improve outcomes to better individuals’ experience and quality of care. They set out what is needed across the whole system for good palliative and end of life care, and includes a focus on families, carers and staff.

How do these ambitions align with the HCPC’s Standards of conduct, performance and ethics?

The Standards of conduct, performance and ethics are the ethical framework within which our registrants must work, and include, amongst other things, expectations around treating service users and carers with respect, communicating appropriately and effectively, working within the limits of knowledge and skills, and managing risk.

The ambitions embody the principles outlined in the Standards of conduct, performance and ethics, in particular:

What does this mean in practice?

The ambitions require a change in focus, considering quality of life rather than rehabilitation or healing, which can be a challenging shift for health and care professionals who are used to providing active interventions intended to make people better.

Embodying the ambitions in practice means service users should be able to:

These practical applications are supported by the Government in the choice commitments they made in 2017 and can be found here along with an update on the national actions being taken to address these. Registrants should consider how they can enable the above ambitions, and where they face challenges in doing so, determine what support and training they need.

Where to go for further information

The Ambitions for Palliative and End of Life Care website is being developed in to a knowledge hub providing useful information and resources including assessment tools, best practice examples and case studies.

You can also get in touch with us at policy@hcpc-uk.org or on 020 7840 9815.

30 May 2018

The ins and outs of CPD

CPD is vital, but it doesn’t need to be daunting. This blog will break down why the HCPC asks registrants to maintain CPD, and aims to address any concerns around practicing and keeping track of your CPD.

Meeting our CPD standards is a requirement of your registration. Most of the professionals on our Register selected for audit demonstrate that their CPD is adequate and up to date. However, we know many people still worry about whether the CPD they are doing is sufficient. We also recognise that health and care professionals often work in challenging and complex environments with limited time and access to formal learning and development.

Below we highlight the HCPC’s flexibility when it comes to CPD, and give some background on what we expect from those selected for audit.

Why do CPD?

We all know that CPD is important because you continue to learn and develop, keeping skills and knowledge up to date so you are able to practise safely and effectively throughout your career. 

A flexible approach based on outcomes

Our approach to CPD is flexible, taking into account different working roles, learning needs and variation in access to certain types of CPD for professionals registered with us. We don’t set a number of hours or points and we do not ‘approve’ or ‘endorse’ any CPD activity.

The choice of appropriate activities is up to the individual. We are much more interested in the outcomes of their learning, how this has benefitted their practice and ultimately the service users. 

CPD is much wider than formal courses 

Many people tend to focus on formal courses, but CPD is any activity from which you learn and develop. It is easy to get ‘stuck’ on course attendance’ but it is important to remember that we are looking for a mixture of learning activities.

There are plenty of ways to meet the CPD standards. Things like e-learning, case discussions and the reading you may have done are all good examples. The smallest activities can often have an impact on your knowledge, ability and service delivery. This could be as simple as describing a conversation you had with a colleague that may have challenged your thinking, led you to explore the evidence base and may then have led to a change in practice. This is as legitimate an activity as attending a conference.

It is important to remember that the assessors are specifically looking for a range of activities that illustrate your continuing CPD.

Working with employers

CPD is linked to registration and you need to meet our CPD standards to stay registered. We can remove you from the Register if you do not. It is, therefore, important that professionals stay fit to practise for the benefit of service users and remain on the Register. We recognise that employers play an important role in this and need to understand our regulatory requirements and processes. We are in regular contact with employers throughout the UK, through our events and workshops, ensuring they are aware of our standards and what they mean for their employees. 

Further guidance and support

  • Professional body resources

If you are a member of your professional body, many have member resources including guidance, online planning systems and events to help you with your CPD. Make sure you check with them about what they have to offer as this could save you time and effort.

  • HCPC CPD resources

We have a comprehensive section on our website about CPD. As well as taking you through the Standards, there are practical examples about the process. For more information, visit:

What are the HCPC Standards for CPD?
What happens if I am selected for audit?
What activities count as CPD?
What evidence of activities do I need to keep?
How should I record my activities?
Examples of sample profiles
CPD guidance on our YouTube channel


18 May 2018

Applying for HCPC registration?

Registration Manager Sammuel Yemane highlights what you need to do to avoid having your application returned as incomplete. 

Graduation season is upon us and a new wave of health and care professionals will soon be putting their skills to use and entering the world of work.  For those who have successfully completed a HCPC approved education and training programme, you are now eligible to apply  to join the HCPC Register. This applies to all health and care graduates who wish to practice using one of our legally protected titles. 

During this current period our Registration Department will receive lots of new applications. We aim to process applications within ten working days of receipt of a complete application. This ensures that newly qualified professionals who are eligible are added to our online Register as soon as possible.
It is important to make sure that your application is complete before submitting it to us. Common mistakes include failing to provide the appropriate documentation, or not including a fee with the application form. Incomplete applications will be returned for resubmission, which could potentially delay your entry to the HCPC Register.

To avoid this happening follow our checklist:

Enclose two certified* copies of documents to confirm your identity; one document should contain your photograph, one should provide your current address.
All signatures must be original and dated within the last six months.
Provide certified proof of any name changes; e.g. a certified photocopy of a relevant name change document such as a marriage certificate or deed poll.
A fee must be submitted with your application form. 
If you answered ‘yes’ to any question in section 3 (character and health self- declarations / vetting and barring schemes), you must provide additional information.

Documents must be certified as a true copy of the original by a person of professional standing in the community. This means that the person you ask to certify your documents must write on it ‘I certify that this is a true copy of the original document’ and must sign it and print their name and professional title.

A professional person (for example a registered professional, a solicitor, barrister or other legal practitioner or an accountant) will be recognised as a person of standing in the community.
If you have any questions as to whether a person is considered to be a person of professional standing in the community please contact us.

For further information about applying to join the HCPC Register click here.

16 April 2018

The HCPC’s Fitness to Practise Process explained

Fitness to Practise (FTP) proceedings can be both personally and professionally daunting for everyone concerned. We know because of the feedback we receive from those involved in the process and from talking to registrants and employers when we meet them at HCPC events. This article is intended to address some of these concerns by explaining simply and clearly what happens when a concern is raised, the types of issues we deal with and what support is available.

What is fitness to practise?

When we say a registrant is ‘fit to practise’, we mean that they have the skills, knowledge and character to practise safely and effectively. The vast majority of our registrants are doing just that, with only 0.64 per cent subject to FTP concerns. This is mirrored in the high levels of public trust and confidence enjoyed by professionals on our Register – 91 per cent in our most recent polling. 

Importantly, the process is not designed to punish registrants for past mistakes, it is there to protect the public from those who are not fit to practice.  This also includes acts by a registrant, which may affect public protection or confidence in the profession, or the regulatory process.

This may mean that they should not practise at all, or that they should be limited in what they are allowed to do. Some registrants make mistakes that they are unlikely to repeat. Our processes do not mean that we will pursue every isolated or minor mistake.

Who can raise a concern?

Anyone can raise a concern about a registrant, this includes the public, registrants themselves, employers and service users. The police can tell us about criminal proceedings against a registrant if they decide there is a pressing social need.

What constitutes a concern?

We consider every case individually. However, a registrant's fitness to practise is likely to be impaired if the evidence shows that they were dishonest, committed fraud or abused someone’s trust; exploited a vulnerable person; hid mistakes or tried to block our investigation; had an improper relationship with a service user; carried out reckless or deliberately harmful acts;  were involved in sexual misconduct or have been violent or displayed threatening behaviour.

What happens when a concern is received?

Every case is considered individually. HCPC review the concern to decide whether it’s an issue, we can deal with. If it is, we will open a case and assess the available information to decide whether it meets our Standard of acceptance (SOA). If the concern doesn’t meet our SOA, the case closes and there is no further action. If it does, HCPC will go ahead with an investigation. At any stage of the process we can apply for an interim order if we believe it will protect the public or the registrant themselves. This could prevent the registrant from practising or place them under conditions of practice until the case has been closed.

What happens when a concern is investigated?

We will gather other relevant information about the concern and once there is enough information, HCPC will draft a formal fitness to practise allegation. We send the allegation and the information we have gathered to the registrant. They then have 28 days to respond.

The investigating committee

The details are then passed to a HCPC Investigating Committee Panel. The Panel will decide whether there is a ‘case to answer’. The meeting is held in private, as is set out in the HCPC legislation, and their task is to look at the paper evidence and decide whether the allegation can be proven. The Panel can decide that they need more information, there is ‘no case to answer’ or there is ‘a case to answer’ – and will give reasons for their decision.

The hearing

If there is a ‘case to answer’, it will proceed to a hearing managed by the Health and Care Professions Tribunal Service (HCPTS).  At the hearing, the registrant or their representative will have an opportunity to challenge the allegations made by the HCPC. They can tell their side of the story, question the HCPC's witnesses, give evidence and call their own witnesses. The HCPTS panel carefully consider each case and make a decision on whether the facts are proved, whether the registrant’s FTP is currently impaired, on what grounds, and what (if any) sanction will be imposed. Each Panel is independent and includes a Partner, who is a representative from the profession of the registrant.

What powers do the panel have?

The panel can do a number of things:
• take no further action or order mediation
• caution you (place a warning against your name on the Register for between one to five years);
• set conditions of practice that you must meet (for no longer than three years);
• suspend you from practice (for no longer than one year); or
• strike your name from our Register (which means you cannot practise).

After the hearing

The HCPTS will send the registrant a copy of the Panel's decision. The registrant may appeal against the decision if they think it is wrong or unfair. An appeal must be lodged within 28 days of the hearing. Appeals are made directly to the High Court in England and Wales, the High Court in Northern Ireland or, in Scotland, the Court of Session.

Support and talk

We know FTP proceedings can be stressful. For this reason, we have a range of resources available to support registrants – this includes guides on what to expect, what the purpose of FTP is, adjournment information and scheduling processes.

You can also contact your professional body or union who will be able to assist further.

Find out more information:
What happens if a concern is raised about me?
The fitness to practise process – information for employers and managers
Standards of conduct, performance and ethics

28 March 2018

5 facts you need to know about the changes to Set 1 for paramedics

Acting Director of Policy and Standards Katherine Timms discusses the change to the threshold qualification level for entry to the Register for paramedics to degree level, and what it means for those on the register or looking to join.

On 21 March 2018 the HCPC Council agreed that the threshold level for paramedics should change from 'Equivalent to Certificate of Higher Education' to 'Bachelor degree with honours'. In basic terms this means that paramedics will eventually need a degree in order to gain entry to the HCPC Register and practice their profession. Following a consultation we concluded this was necessary to ensure that paramedics in the UK were trained to the depth required for contemporary practice.

However we realise that a change such as this can generate a lot of questions and some concerns. Below you’ll find the need-to-know facts about the changes, and how this effects current paramedics, students and those thinking of joining the Register. 

1. If you’re registered you will remain registered
The change to SET 1 does not affect the ability of paramedics to remain registered with us. This is because SET 1 is about the contemporary level of education and training required for entry to the Register and only applies to approved programmes.
All existing registrants will be able to remain registered with the HCPC. No top up education will be required of paramedics in order to remain registered.

2. If you’ve completed a HCPC approved qualification you can still apply
The change to SET 1 does not affect your ability to apply for registration with HCPC, even if you decide not to apply for registration until after SET 1 has changed. This is because SET 1 is about the contemporary level of education and training required for entry to the Register. It applies to approved programmes for registration going forward and is not applied retrospectively.

If you have been out of practice since you qualified, you may need to meet our returners to practice requirements before you register. You can find out more information here.

3. You can still apply if you’re completing an approved diploma
Any student who is currently enrolled on an approved programme - now or when the change is fully implemented on 1 September 2021 - will be eligible to apply for registration with us when they complete their programme.
Enrolled students do not need to have complete their approved programme by 1 September 2021. They can graduate after this date and still be eligible to register.

4. You may have to complete a degree if you wish to train as a paramedic in the future
We will be implementing the change to SET 1 as a phased approach. Students will still be able to start approved certificate, diploma and foundation degree level programmes up until 31 August 2021 and will graduate with eligibility to apply for registration when they finish their studies.
From 1 September 2021, only education programmes delivered at degree level or above will be approved to take on new students. From this date, you will need to enrol on to a degree level programme if you want to train to be a paramedic.

We anticipate that education providers will phase out their certificate, diploma and foundation degree level programmes between 2018 and 2021. Individual education providers will decide when to close approved certificate, diploma and foundation degree level programmes to new entrants. We expect the timelines to vary from provider to provider. We strongly recommend that you contact any providers you are considering applying to as soon as possible to find out their specific plans.

5. If you are waiting to start an approved course you will still be eligible to join the Register upon completion
There is no requirement for education providers to close approved certificate, diploma and foundation degree level programmes immediately. Individual education providers will decide when to close approved certificate, diploma and foundation degree level programmes to new entrants. We anticipate that education providers will phase out this provision at different times between now and September 2021. If you are considering deferring your place, we strongly recommend that you contact the provider as soon as possible as there may not be any guarantee that the programme will run in the next academic year.

The change to SET 1 is being implemented as a phased approach. Students will still be able to start approved certificate, diploma and foundation degree level programmes up until 31 August 2021 and will graduate with eligibility to apply for registration when they finish their studies.

To learn more about these changes click here.