10 February 2015

Time for a new Chair at HCPC

 Public appointments, quite rightly, require those who hold office to stand down after two terms. This is to safeguard against office holders becoming too stale, or too close to the organisation they are charged with governing. Although I feel great personal sadness that I stand down from my role as Chair in June 2015, I believe wholeheartedly that this principle is the right one.

The role of the Chair is to provide clear strategic leadership, working closely with the Council and the Executive to keep the objective of the organisation - that of public protection - at the heart of all decision making. On a day to day basis, financial and operational oversight are also key aspects of the work, but it is maintaining this clarity of purpose around what regulation is for, that is most central to the job. This manifests itself in many different ways, working closely with the Council and the Executive team and engaging with the very many stakeholders who have an interest in the work of the regulator.

The HCPC is unique amongst regulators. Set up in 2002, the organisation has established itself as a multi professional regulator with a worldwide reputation. In the last eight years, it has doubled in size, taken on four additional professions, and been proactive in its pursuit of delivering transparent and proportionate regulation. Amongst its defining characteristics lies a single governing Council, one set of standards and processes for all 16 professions, and a commitment to treating all professions as equal, regardless of size or perceived status. This sense of equality extends throughout the organisation - the Council members and the Executive team work as equals around the table, valuing diversity of opinion and experience, with a shared committed to continuous change and improvement. Dialogue with our colleagues in health and social care, in the four governments of the UK, in education, professional trade unions and associations, and other regulators is an important part of the day to day work.

Looking back over the years, there are a number of developments that illustrate the culture of the HCPC. I am proud of the way in which the organisation has pioneered an evidence based approach, arguing that if health and care professionals are being asked to be evidence informed, so should the regulator. We have focused our research efforts on many areas, notably on professionalism, and on creating a better understanding of the experience of regulation from different perspectives  - complainants, professionals, students, employers, educators and the perceptions of a wide range of patients, service users and the public. We have been fiercely defensive of using evidence to inform our decision making, even when those decisions were not in line with wider views and opinions of the day.

I am also proud of the way that HCPC has developed its engagement with service users and patients. Conscious of the trap of tokenism, we have worked hard to create authentic and meaningful forms of engagement, to listen and work closely with users in many different settings. Regulation is there for the public, and it must be intelligible, accessible, responsive, and visible for those who need it. We have worked hard over the years to improve our communications, so that individuals know where to find us, and judge us to be trustworthy to act when standards are not being met.

My final observation, for those who might be considering applying for this role is that the HCPC is quite simply a great place to work. It has a strong "can do" culture running through it. The people who work here are highly committed, hard working, and open to change and improvement. The Council work well as a team, clear about their role and of the territory best left to the Executive.

It was John Carver who observed that the role of a Chair is to protect and further the integrity of governance, as a servant of the Board and the organisation. I can think of no better place to pursue this goal, and no better team to work with.


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