02 December 2015

An overview of our fitness to practise activity undertaken in 2014-15

John Barwick, Acting Director of Fitness to Practise at HCPC, highlights the findings presented in our Fitness to practise annual report 2015 and discusses key areas of work and activities undertaken this last year.

This month we published our Fitness to practise (FtP) annual report, covering the period 1 April 2014 to 31 March 2015. The report provides information about the work we do in considering allegations about the fitness to practise of our registrants.

Here, we provide an overview of the statistics in terms of the cases progressed through our FtP process in 2014-15, as well as highlighting key activities undertaken to continually review and improve our procedures.

In 2014-15, the number of individuals on our Register increased by 2.7 per cent. The number of new concerns we received also increased from 2,069 to 2,170, a percentage rise of 4.8 from the year before. However, despite this increase, the proportion of the Register affected still remains low, with only 0.66 per cent of registrants (or 1 in 166) being subject to a new concern in 2014-15.

In 2014-15:

  • 1,042 cases were closed before being considered by an Investigating Committee Panel (ICP) as they did not meet our Standard of acceptance.  
  • 849 cases were considered by an ICP.
  • 351 final hearings were concluded. Of these, 15 cases were discontinued, 76 were not well-founded, seven resulted in no further action, and one was removed. Imposed sanctions included 52 cautions, 39 conditions of practise orders, 69 suspensions and 62 strike-offs. 30 cases resulted in voluntary removal.
  • 236 review hearings were held.

The number of cases considered by an ICP and the number of final hearings concluded increased significantly from 2013-14. We had anticipated these increases due to the high number of concerns we received in 2013-14 and the time it takes for those concerns to progress through the process.

Given the further increases in concerns received in 2014-15, we have planned our resources in 2015-16 to allow for additional ICP and hearing days if required. 

Key areas of work and activities undertaken in 2014-15

  • Improving the experience individuals have when they’re involved in the FtP process, be it a complainant, registrant, employer or witness. This included reviewing the tone of our correspondence.
  • New initiatives have included proactively seeking feedback from complainants and registrants at the conclusion of a case, and using the Patients Association peer review model to assess how we handle FtP concerns.
  • Enhancing the information sources available to employers. Ongoing engagement with this group is important to ensure they understand what concerns to refer to us, at what time, and what information to provide.
  • As part of our commitment to building an evidence base for the field of professional regulation, we published Preventing small problems from becoming big problems in health and care. This report provides an insight into the triggers of disengagement and explores ways in which preventative action might be implemented.
  • We signed new Memoranda of Understanding with the Care Quality Commission and the Disclosure and Barring Service. These agreements set out how we will work together to achieve our separate statutory functions but also our joint objective of safeguarding the health and well-being of the public.

Future work

  • We will continue to look at cost efficiency in our FtP process
  • We have reviewed our Standard of acceptance policy to ensure it remains fit for purpose. This has involved taking into account the changing nature of the cases we receive, feedback from those involved, and feedback from our audit and complaints data.
  • We will start work to further separate our investigation and adjudication functions to ensure enhanced independence in our FtP process.

The Fitness to practise annual report 2015 is available to download here.