04 August 2014

A UK wide Council for a UK wide Regulator

Vibrant, successful governance depends upon maintaining a strong team. In August, the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) is launching its recruitment campaign to appoint new members to its Council. Four of our existing members are coming to the end of their term of office, and cannot be re-appointed as they have reached the maximum time period allowed for serving on a Board.
This has been another year of achievement for the organisation. We continue to meet the standards set by the Professional Standards Authority, and we were described in its latest report as an effective regulator (1). Our UK wide Register holds 320,000 professionals from 16 professions, and we constantly improve our processes to ensure that we deliver our regulatory functions. There is no room for complacency, and as we grow we remain focused on continuous improvement in our processes. HCPC has always had a strong commitment to extending public protection through statutory regulation, and there is no sign of this diminishing. Next year, we will open a new register for Public Health specialists, and we continue to contribute to the debate about further professions and whether or not statutory regulation should be introduced for them. Over the last few years, we have had a particular focus on the challenges of holding care workers to account. This year, the Health Select Committee Report supported our proposals for the implementation of a new form of regulation for adult care workers (2).

Beyond this, we are undertaking further reviews of our standards and research to bring better understanding of regulation and its purpose. Health and social care is becoming ever more complex, and public expectations of what professionals deliver is changing. We continue to engage with other agencies and with government to raise standards and deal swiftly with instances of poor care.

These are just a few of the challenges that our four new members will be engaging with as they join our Council. We are non executives who want to see better protection for the public, and ever better, more efficient regulation of health and care professions across the UK. This UK wide perspective has always been of great importance to the HCPC, and throughout our history we have maintained a team drawn from all four countries of the UK. Health and social care is in a constant state of change, and there are significant differences between the four countries of the UK. The Council must continue to engage with this diversity and understand the implications for regulation.

Perhaps most critical of all, we are seeking new members with a personal commitment to public service (3). It was Bob Greenleaf who observed many years ago that legitimacy begins with trust. ‘The only sound basis for trust is for people to have the experience of being served by their institutions’  HCPC’s sole purpose is to deliver public protection. It exists to serve the public through setting and maintaining standards for many thousands of health and care professions. A huge, exciting challenge.

1. Professional Standards Authority Performance Review 2013-2014. www.professionalstandards.org.uk
2. 2014 Accountabilty hearing with the Health and Care Professions Council. First Report of Session 2014-15. http://www.parliament.uk/
3. Good governance http://hcpc-uk.blogspot.co.uk/2013/08/striving-for-good-governance.html

Anna van der Gaag

Benefits of being a Council member