28 May 2013

Education annual report 2012

Our Education Department approves and monitors education and training programmes throughout the UK. This relates predominantly to pre-registration programmes for the 16 professions we regulate, although we do also approve a small number of programmes linked to post-registration areas of practice. Our standards of education and training (SETs) ensure that a programme that maintains its approval with us produces individuals who are fit to practice and are therefore eligible to apply to our Register.

We published the Education annual report 2012 on Tuesday 7 May 2013. Here, we look at some of the key themes from our review of our approval and monitoring activities across the UK during the 2011-12 academic year.

In numbers
During this period we:
  • conducted 67 approval visits assessing 110 programmes;
  • reviewed 256 annual monitoring declarations and 221 annual monitoring audit submissions;
  • considered 316 major change notifications;
  • investigated four concerns raised about approved programmes that were within our remit; and 
  • transferred 269 social work pre-registration programmes and 27 approved mental health professional (AMHP) programmes to our register of approved education and training programmes following the transfer of social workers in England from the General Social Care Council on 1 August 2012.
The video below provides a brief overview of key facts and figures from this year's report:

Conditions for new programmes
A key area of growth over the last three years related to new programmes for practitioner psychologists and hearing aid dispensers following the opening of these Registers in July 2009 and April 2010 respectively. We concluded the schedule of approval visits to these programmes in summer 2012.

A common theme across these programmes was the number of conditions we applied on approval that related to practice placements. Our SETs require an education provider to hold overall responsibility for placement provision. Conditions in this area are therefore often focused on the quality assurance arrangements the education provider has in place to manage these important areas of teaching and learning.

This is a trend we often see with new profession programmes that transfer over to us and with new programmes from our existing professions. Our Visitors normally ask for further evidence that education providers are well placed to manage practice placements and that placement educators are equipped to provide appropriate learning experiences. This often means education providers must demonstrate that there are formal, documented arrangements underpinning the relationships they have with their placement providers. When considered in this context, these results do not suggest any profession-specific risk profile for either new profession.

To help address this across all professions, we have been delivering seminars for the past two academic years that are focused on supporting education providers in their management of placements. For these seminars, we invited both education providers and placement educators to attend as we recognise the important role they each play in ensuring the education experience meets our standards. These seminars were well attended by representatives from the majority of our professions and facilitated useful discussions about different approaches to the management of placement provision.

The MSC initiative
The Modernising Scientific Careers (MSC) initiative – a workforce strategy from the Department of Health – has also had an impact on education programme numbers, with the creation of 16 new biomedical scientist programmes in 2011-12, which we approved. We also approved a new route to registration for clinical scientists modeled against the new MSC scientific training pathway. It is possible that we may see the creation of more new biomedical scientist and clinical scientist programmes in future years as a result of the MSC initiative.

These developments suggest that our standards remain fit for purpose and can be appropriately applied to a range of professions and models of education and training for the professions we regulate.

When compared over the last five years, it is clear that our monitoring workload is growing. For annual monitoring, we have seen an increase of 85 per cent between 2007-08 and 2011-12. Major change notifications also increased by 32 per cent in the 2010-11 academic year. These increases are expected each year, because as we approve more programmes, more programmes are subject to meeting our monitoring processes. We anticipate further growth as practitioner psychologist and hearing aid dispenser programmes move into our monitoring cycle.

We required additional documentation for 41 per cent of annual monitoring audit submissions. This is comparable with the results from last year, which reflects the requirement for education providers to show how they meet the revised SETs implemented in September 2009. All programmes in the annual monitoring cycle have now provided this evidence and we expect the number of requests for additional documentation to fall again next year accordingly.

No programmes required a further approval visit as a result of an audit submission and only 2 programmes required a further approval visit as a result of a major change submission.  We only decide to conduct an onsite approval visit when the changes submitted by an education provider have significantly changed the way their programme meets our standards. Pleasingly, these results mean our model of open-ended approval is achieving the task it was set out to do: preventing the need for cyclical re-approval visits where possible.

Looking ahead
We anticipate the majority of our approval and monitoring work over the next three academic years to be focused on the schedule of visits to social work and approved mental health professional (AMHPs) programmes in England.

As with all new professions, we will undertake a review of these visits each year to inform our own approval and monitoring approach for these professions and the application of our standards. This review will also feed into future seminar topics and stakeholder liaison that we conduct with the social work profession.

Brendon Edmonds
Acting Director of Education, HCPC


You can download a copy of the full Education annual report 2012 here: www.hcpc-uk.org/publications/reports

Further information on the HCPC’s approval and monitoring activities can be found here: www.hpc-uk.org/education

All programmes approved by the Education and Training Committee for meeting our SETs appear on our register of approved programmes: www.hcpc-uk.org/education/programmes/register

07 May 2013

Don Berwick: a challenging voice from the US

The government has published its initial response to the Francis Report, with a wide range of proposals to take the recommendations forward (1).  

Amongst the many initiatives, Professor Don Berwick, a veteran of the healthcare quality movement in the US and former adviser to President Obama, has been invited to report on ‘a whole system approach to make zero harm a reality in the NHS’ (1).  

For over twenty years, Berwick has been a leader in the field of health improvement, looking at how services can improve to make care better, safer and more efficient. His work at the Institute of Health Improvement has made a major contribution to understanding quality and safety in health care.

At a recent lecture at the Kings Fund in London (2), Berwick suggested that the UK health and social care system, like the US system, needed radical solutions if we are to achieve ‘better care, better health and lower cost’. Besides the economic pressures, which are considerable, he talked about the public and the professions being ‘confused’ about what the future of health care delivery would look like. Patients and their carers worry that changes will mean a loss of services, and the professions are unsure about what kind of practice they will have in the future. At a political level, in the US at least, Berwick spoke of a loss of authentic dialogue about exactly what changes will deliver better outcomes.

A quietly spoken man with a powerful combination of conviction and experience, Berwick’s vision had a moral dimension – with a challenge to professionals to focus on the needs of the vulnerable in society. He suggested that, in the future, care must be less centred on hospitals, and be much more community based. He saw the future of care delivered in teams made up of individuals with ‘an expanding scope of practice’, able to meet the needs of local populations, using new technologies and advocating a new approach to involving service users in the decisions about their own care.

Berwick illustratated his vision with examples of innovative care in the US,  many of these based on integrated teams, with little or no heirarchy, and much less doctor-focused than our current systems advocate. He said the first rule of change is to cooperate. The training of health care professionals  must include ‘process improvement, courage, transparency and openess and above all cooperation’.

These are huge ideas, and huge challenges, but arguably they articulate what many people in the UK already recognise.  When HCPC was established over 12 years ago, there was resistance to the idea of an integrated system of professional regulation – where all professions were subject to the same regulatory processes, one register, one fitness to practise process, shared standards and one Board with oversight of all.

Today, the HCPC is seen as an effective and efficient regulator of 16 health, psychological and social work professions. It may well be a model for the future which Berwick describes.
Anna van der Gaag

1)    Department of Health (2013) Patients first and foremost: the intial government response to the Report of the mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust Public Inquiry
2)    Don Berwick (2013) The role of clinical leaders. Kings Fund lecture, 16 April 2013. www.kingsfund.org.uk