05 December 2016

A breakdown of the HCPC Fitness to Practise Annual Report 2016

John Barwick, Head of Fitness to Practise Operations at HCPC, discusses the findings presented in this year’s Fitness to Practise (FtP) Annual Report and highlights key areas of work and activities undertaken by our FtP department.

The Fitness to Practise Annual Report 2016 covers the period of 1 April 2015 to 31 March 2016. The report provides information about the way our FtP department deals with allegations against our registrant’s fitness to practise their profession.

Here, we provide an overview of the statistics relating to those allegations, the work we do in progressing cases through our FtP process and highlight key activities undertaken in order to continually improve and review our procedures.

In 2015-16, the number of individuals on our register increased by 3.3 per cent from 2014-15. However over the same period there was a decrease of 1.9 per cent in the number of new cases, with 2,127 cases received in total. That equates to 0.62 per cent of our registrants, or one in 162, being subject to concerns.

In 2015-16:
• 1,661 cases were closed before they were considered by a panel of the HCPC’s Investigating Committee (ICP) as they did not meet our Standard of Acceptance.
• 787 cases were considered by an ICP.
• 320 final hearings were concluded. Of these, 84 were discontinued or not well founded, five resulted in no further action and two resulted in the registrant being removed from the register due to fraudulent /incorrect entry. Imposed sanctions included 33 cautions, 42 conditions of practise orders, 60 suspensions and 69 strike-offs. 25 cases resulted in voluntary removal.
• 346 interim order and review hearings were concluded.

The number of cases considered by an ICP and the number of final hearings decreased from 2014-15. This reflects the increase in the number of cases that were closed at the initial stages of the fitness to practise process for not meeting the standard of acceptance, and the fact that there was a higher volume of cases going to an ICP in 2014-15 following a 25 per cent increase in the number of cases received in 2013-14.

Key areas of work and activities undertaken in 2015-16

• We have completed a review of our Standard of acceptance policy, the purpose of the review was to ensure the policy reflected the changing nature of the cases we receive. We also developed a Standard of acceptance explained fact sheet.
• We have updated our referral forms to provide more guidance on the information that should be provided by the complainant. We have also updated our How to raise a concern brochure.
• A continued focus on developing information sources for employers has been undertaken, with the revision of our brochure for employers and the development of FtP specific website content.
• We signed a new Memoranda of Understanding with NHS Protect and the Regulation and Quality Improvement Authority in Northern Ireland.
• In January 2016 we acquired a new building which now provides a dedicated hearings centre for FtP hearings.

Future work

• We have been developing proposals for further enhancing the independence of the adjudications which will be considered by HCPC’s Council in 2016–17.
• Ensuring the continued timely progression and conclusion of cases, whilst ensuring ongoing public protection, will be a strategic focus for 2016–17. The primary focus of our workplan in the coming year is the introduction of greater specialisation in the management of cases through the FtP process.
• We will continue engagement with organisations where we have a common objective of ensuring the safety and wellbeing of members of the public.
• We will continue to develop our case study material as well as updating our What happens if a concern is raised about me? brochure.

14 November 2016

Have you been selected for CPD? - Part Two


Here is the final blog piece on commonly asked questions about continuing professional development (CPD) and the HCPC audit process from three of our CPD Assessors Felicity Court, Dr Mick Harper and Emma Barclay.

What CPD advice would you give somebody even if they have not been selected for audit?
  • Make sure you have a system in place for recording a log / list of all the CPD activities you do. For example I have a shortcut on my desktop to a simple table where I can add a brief description of CPD activities as they occur. It’s best to be ready, have a system that works for you in your day to day work. If your professional body has a mechanism for doing this then make use of it.
  • A few minutes (e.g. once a month) can pay dividends if you are selected for CPD assessment. It also means you do not have to rely on your memory/trawling through old diaries to recall what you have done over a two year period!
  • When recording CPD think broadly about the range of learning activities this can include. It is easy to get ‘stuck’ on course attendance’ but assessors are very interested to read about many other examples of activities that illustrate reflective practice. This can 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.
What would you recommend to a registrant who says they do not have time to complete CPD activities on top of their daily workload?
  • The bottom line is that registrants must undertake CPD to stay registered with us and there are CPD standards that must be adhered to. 
  • We know that everyone is busy at work these days however there is also the fact we have a duty of care to our patients and service users to ensure that we maintain our professional skills and stay abreast of developments in our areas of work. 
  • You'll be surprised how many things you do every week that contribute to your CPD that you may not be recognising so make sure you familiarise yourself with the examples provided at the back of the HCPC CPD guide. So it could be a conversation about new techniques / processes; new equipment that you have been taught on or an article that has been shared with you but of course it doesn’t have to be a specific task. CPD is what it is to you as an individual as long as it seeks to benefit you in your role and the services users you engage with.
What advice would you give someone who says their employer does not give them much time off to complete CPD activities?
  • It is important that employers are made aware that maintaining CPD is a key aspect of re-registration and should be supported if their employees are to meet the necessary standards. As a Registrant you have the responsibility to ensure that you continue to meet the standards and are entitled to perform your role and enjoy your protected title.
  • It’s a common misconception that your employer has responsibility to ensure that you continue to meet your regulatory standards, or to offer you courses for your own CPD or time to undertake your own activities. Make sure you use any 1:1’s or appraisals to identify and capture your learning needs and then your employer is perhaps more likely to support you to take some time to complete them. That said be savvy and organised and make sure you are capturing all the day to day CPD activities.
  •  Think of discussions you may have with colleagues that lead you to trying a new method/approach with a patient or perhaps internet searches you may do to investigate equipment solutions for a patient along with briefings you may be sent by email that alter your practice in some way.

What would you say to a registrant if they asked whether they are expected to attend expensive courses as a part of their CPD activity?
  • It’s important to remember that assessors are looking for a mixture of learning activities and many of them have no cost at all.
  • It’s not necessary to attend expensive courses. There are plenty of other ways to meet the CPD standards. Be creative. Think of things like job shadowing, e-learning, case discussions and reading you may have done. The smallest activities often impact on the registrant’s knowledge, ability and service delivery. Reading an article and reflecting on your role, making changes based on evidence to benefit you and the service user is as legitimate an activity as a 5-day conference.
What do you think the benefits of completing CPD are?
  • Colleagues who have been selected have told me that after the initial ‘why me?!” response, they have actually found that reflecting on their achievements over the previous two year cycle has proved an affirming process.
  • It can be a great way of maintaining your confidence, motivation and skill as a health care professional. Embrace it and recognise it as part of your daily work and hopefully it won't seem like just another job on the do list! Whatever stage we may be at in our careers it is important that we do not ‘stagnate’ in our practice.
  • We have a great responsibility to discharge our professional duties to our service users in an accepted, safe and up-to-date way and CPD supports us to do this. In addition, I see registrants who come into annual reviews at work and take in their CPD profiles as a starting point to discuss their careers. This is a fantastic way of showing your manager that you know your own strengths and limitations and demonstrates that you have thought out your personal future needs. You are much more likely to be supported by employers if you take control of your own career in this way.
There are a range of resources available to support registrants undertaking CPD on our dedicated webpages and on our YouTube channel, visit www.hcpc-uk.org/cpd.

18 October 2016

Have you been selected for a CPD audit? - Part One

 We put some of our more commonly asked questions from registrants about continuing professional development (CPD) and the HCPC audit process to three of our CPD Assessors Felicity Court, Dr Mick Harper and Emma Barclay. Here’s what they had to say.

What are your top tips for Registrants who have been selected for audit and who are about to embark on the process of submitting their CPD profile?

•  Firstly, it’s important not to panic. The process is not designed to catch you out. Before you begin, have a look on the HCPC website as there is a lot of great information to help you including sample profiles and video tutorials. And make sure that you refer to the ‘CPD and your registration’ document.

•  This is your chance to reflect on your learning over the last 2 years. You'll probably surprise yourself at how much you have done and learnt. Read the guidance carefully to ensure you send everything required in and take time to select a variety of activities to best demonstrate how you've met the 5 standards for CPD (link to standards). You should have a long list of all of your CPD activities that span the last two years (standard 1).

•  But ultimately less is more, select 3-4 examples of CPD activities from your list, make sure they are different types of CPD activities (standard 2) and then discuss them in relation to standards 3 and 4. Standard 5 is complete when you submit your profile.

Have you noted any improvements to the quality of profiles received?

•  The standard has always been high and we have seen it improve with each two yearly ‘round’ of assessment. A change is that the number of CPD profiles submitted electronically has increased considerably.

•  Statistics show us that many registrants pass first time. However there are still a few registrants who make some simple easily avoidable mistakes.

•  To find out about the CPD Audit facts and figures, have a look at the recently published CPD Report 2013-15 and infographic.

What do you look for when assessing a CPD profile?

•  Firstly, that it is a genuine attempt to demonstrate the standards and conduct CPD. I look for a well-structured and easy to read profile. This helps me to pick out the evidence for each of the standards and be assured the registrant has met all the standards. Often ‘less is more’. Good profiles are just a few pages long.

•  If the profile contains a 2-year list of CPD activities that are a range of different types of learning I can immediately tick standards 1 and 2. Ideally around half a dozen examples usually gives the assessors a clear picture of how the registrant has benefited from the CPD activities to see how they meet Standards 3 and 4.

•  If a particular course for example has been useful it is sufficient to enclose evidence of attendance alongside a brief programme of what was covered. We do not need to see copies of every handout you were given over a 3 day period. 

•  Ultimately we are looking for evidence of your reflections on what you learned, how you feel it has benefitted your practice and ultimately helped your service users.

What common mistakes do you see when assessing CPD profiles?

•  Not keeping or providing a dated list of all CPD activities undertaken during the registration period as part of the submitted profile. It is obvious to assessors where registrants haven’t maintained their list and are filling it in from memory.

•  It can be really frustrating if a profile is well presented but without this list. The registrant will then have to be asked for further information by the assessors as we are unable to see evidence that the registrant has participated regularly in CPD and maintained a record of this.

•  Not explicitly describing the benefits that an activity has had to the registrant and to the service users they work with. Sometimes it seems that the registrant assumes the assessor will ‘read between the lines’ when in fact we need the registrant to state all the benefits however obvious they might seem to you.

•  Read standards 3 and 4 carefully and make sure your examples describe how you have met both of these standards. A registrant can sometimes focus on one more than another leading to a request for further information.

•  Secondly, sometimes registrants try to tell us too much and this dilutes the quality of their profile, remember to just select 3-4 CPD activities that span the 2-year cycle. Be explicit-how did that activity make you better in your role, how did it benefit service users and what service users were they?

There are a range of resources available to support registrants undertaking CPD on our dedicated webpages and on our YouTube channel, visit www.hcpc-uk.org/cpd.

04 October 2016

The role of the HCPC fitness to practise panel

Registered Paramedic Mark Woolcock explains that the fitness to practise panel is there to determine whether an HCPC registrant’s fitness to practise is impaired.

During a hearing, evidence is put forward by the HCPC and the registrant, and witnesses can be questioned. The panel will then listen, evaluate and place weight on the evidence it hears before deciding whether any action needs to be taken in order to protect the public.

The Panel doesn’t represent the HCPC and we act independently of them. A fitness to practise panel is made up of three members: A chairperson who leads the hearing and speaks for the panel, a lay person who is not registered with the HCPC and a registrant member from the same profession as the person being investigated.

My role as a paramedic registrant panel member is to evaluate all available information and evidence, and assist the panel in making an objective and informed decision. I feel it is a very privileged position to be in. I have great a responsibility to ensure continued public protection and confidence in the profession, while simultaneously providing an intuitive and empirical perspective to help understand the role of the registrant. My advice to anyone involved in a process is to always attend the hearing. The panel want to hear what everyone has to say and I cannot emphasise enough how much value the panel place on attendance.

The panel work usually starts months in advance; the Scheduling Team will sort out panel member’s availability. Once a date is confirmed, the office will ensure that no conflict of interest exists and that the panel members have no involvement with parties in the case.

Once confirmed, the papers will be sent out in good time. I do two readings: firstly when the papers have arrived so I can familiarise myself with the parties (again to finally ensure no conflict of interest) and also to obtain an understanding of the issues. My final reading is the day before the panel meets, and I find this enables me to have a really good handle on all of the information and details.

After every single hearing or panel activity I have been involved in, I am always left with a huge sense of contributing to a fair and just process and the sole objective is to allow the truth to be heard.
I applied for this role because I have a strong professional conscience and believe whole-heartedly in our profession and the people carrying out our role. It would be too easy to say my only objective was to ensure continued public safety, but I do believe strongly in ensuring that any registrant going through a fitness to practise process is supported and measured against only the most objective standard. I want registrants to believe the process is fair and just, and have confidence in the panel members experience and integrity.

21 September 2016

Key findings from the continuing professional development (CPD) audit report for 2013-2015

Natalie Berrie, HCPC Registration Manager highlights the key findings from thecontinuing professional development (CPD) audit report for 2013-2015.
This is the fourth report on our CPD audits and we are delighted that, once again, the results are very positive. Our registrants are becoming increasingly familiar with the CPD process and our Standards are also being well understood.

During the period 2013-2015 we randomly selected 8,164 registrants across all 16 professions regulated by the HCPC, to submit their CPD profiles. In the majority of cases the quality was high, with registrants demonstrating they had met the Standards.
Here are our top 7 observations from this year’s report:
1.    Nearly 81% of profiles met the CPD standards, demonstrating links between ongoing learning and benefits to practice and service users.
2.    No registrants were removed because their profile was assessed as not meeting the Standards.  
3.    Most of the profiles submitted were of a high standard and accepted by our assessors after their first assessment. This is particularly good news as it shows that despite the growth in our Register and the number of profiles submitted, registrants are continuing to maintain these higher standards.
4.    Only a small 0.3 per cent, that’s 22 people of the 8,164 selected for audit, were removed from the Register. The decision to remove those individuals was made because they had failed to submit either a CPD profile or provide further information in support of their profile despite being given several opportunities to do so.
5.    Our initial analysis is that there are no significant differences between outcomes in different professions. This was the first time social workers were audited and the report has shown that their results are in line with the other professions.
6.    Out of the fifteen professions that have been audited more than once, nine have seen an increase in the number of profiles accepted compared to their previous audit.
7.    10.7 per cent of those selected chose to defer their audit profile. This was consistent with the level of registrants who deferred in our previous report. The most common reasons for deferring were being, or having been on maternity leave, or due to health issues. 

We are currently undertaking a review of our CPD process and the results of this report will be used to help inform our future guidance which will be consulted on in October 2016.
Whenever a profession renews its registration, we randomly audit the CPD of 2.5 per cent of registrants from that profession. Those that are selected must submit a CPD profile to show how they met our Standards. This is an on-going requirement for everyone on the Register to be able to practise in their chosen profession.
If you have been selected for CPD and have concerns about going through process of submitting your profile, take a look at our dedicated webpages which have a range of resources designed to help.
Visit www.hcpc-uk.org/registrants/cpd for more information.



15 August 2016

12 months on since I joined HCPC as Council Chair

HCPC Council Chair Elaine Buckley reflects on her first year in office.


12 months into my tenure as Chair of the HCPC, a busy and very interesting year. I thought I knew a fair bit about regulation, but I have learnt a great deal more with more still to come.

Since July 2015, I've had the pleasure of meeting many interesting people: Ministers, civil servants, and professional bodies. There is a great deal of consensus about the need for professional regulation, but also healthy debate about how this is best achieved. It is important for the HCPC to continue its relentless work meeting stakeholders, listening, as well as advising.


One of the great highlights of the past year has been travelling around the country meeting registrants. I have attended 6 events and met over 400 registrants, some in major cities; such as Manchester, London and Belfast. However HCPC feels it is very important to visit those areas slightly less accessible so we visited Stornaway, Fort William and Dalton on Furness. This is a crucial activity for the organisation, as it is essential that we stay in touch with all our registrants and listen to their views and comments, as well as providing opportunities for HCPC regulated professions to meet our employees and Council members. The theme for this year's events is our refreshed Standards of Conduct, Performance and Ethics. These have been received very positively and we have had some rich discussions about how valuable the Standards are in providing a framework for the supervision of students, appraisal conversations and peer support. Keep an eye on our website for events  and in our newsletter 'In Focus'.


This year we welcomed a new registrant member of Council; Maureen Drake, an OT working at the Community Healthcare Trust, in Leeds. We also continue to enjoy the support from over 800 partners, who are registrants from all parts of the register and who undertake vital work and make key decisions within our regulation model. These include membership of fitness to practice panels, continuing professional development portfolio assessors and education programme visitors. As a former partner for more than 8 years, I found working with the HCPC both rewarding and insightful and it helped me appreciate the work of a regulator and most importantly understand the benefits for me as a registrant. See the opportunities to work with the HCPC.


The coming year is gearing up to be equally busy with the Government currently planning a consultation about the future shape of regulation in the Autumn and the proposals  for the regulation of social workers are becoming clearer. I have a presentation at the Malaysian regulatory conference already in the diary. But most of all I am looking forward to meeting many more registrants, managers and education providers, as I attend the ambitious programme of events already planned, across the UK.


Hope to see you there!

06 June 2016

Focus on Standard 7: Reporting and escalating concerns

Michael Guthrie, HCPC’s Director of Policy and Standards talks about what our standards of conduct, performance and ethics say about the need for registrants to report concerns about the safety of service users.

What does the standard say?

Standard seven says that registrants must report any concerns about the safety or wellbeing of service users promptly and appropriately. They must also follow-up their concerns where necessary. This includes supporting others to report concerns and acknowledging and acting on concerns reported to them.

Why is the standard important?

The reports of inquiries into failings in health and social care services in recent years have emphasised the importance of individuals reporting concerns they have about the safety of service users and the importance that organisations are responsive to these concerns.

The previous version of the Standards already required registrants to protect service users from harm but our specific expectations were scattered throughout the standards. We have created a dedicated standard and revised the language we have used to make our expectations as clear as possible. We have also included a new requirement that in addition to raising concerns themselves, registrants should support others to raise concerns and, where appropriate to do so, should act on concerns raised to them. This is particularly important for registrants who are in management and leadership positions.

We want to contribute to creating a culture that actively encourages registrants to report concerns and take appropriate action where necessary to keep service users safe.

What does this mean for registrants?

We are asking registrants that when they are concerned about the safety or well-being of service users they take prompt and effective action. For registrants who are employed this might include raising the issue in the first instance informally with their immediate line manager or discussing the issue with their trade union, for example. Most employers will have whistleblowing policies that registrants should be aware of and follow where possible.

For very serious concerns and where no or ineffective action has been taken, we would expect registrants to use their professional judgement, by following-up on their concerns (in line with any whistleblowing policy if there is one) and considering escalating them where necessary. This means passing on their concerns to someone who is better able to act on it, for example a more senior colleague or manager. In some circumstances this might also include passing information to us, to another regulator or to the police.

We know that health and care professionals can understandably be reluctant to raise concerns because they are worried about the consequences for others involved or for their own careers. We want the standards to provide positive encouragement for registrants to use their professional judgement in raising and escalating concerns they have for the benefit of service users and the public.

We have published further advice about raising and escalating concerns on our website. This includes a process diagram to follow when thinking about raising concerns, and suggestions of further sources of advice and support.

Further information about the Standards of conduct, performance and ethics is available here.

For more information about Standard 7, or to address any queries you may have, join in our TweetChat on Tuesday 21 June at 6.00pm using the hashtag #my_standards

09 May 2016

Pass lists: why are they important?

Registration Manager Paul Robson explains the importance of pass lists for new graduates applying to join the HCPC Register.

May signals the start of a particularly busy period for our Registration Department as we receive an influx of new applications to join the HCPC Register from students who have completed one of our approved education and training programmes.

In order to confirm that the individuals applying to our Register have successfully completed an approved programme, the Registration Department relies on checking that applicants are on pass lists for the relevant programme sent to us by education providers.

So just why are pass lists so important?

Here’s six things that education providers should be aware of… 

1. We are unable to process an individual’s application for registration without a pass list.

2. If you do not submit a pass list in a timely manner, students’ registration may be delayed.

3. You should send us a pass list when you are satisfied that all your award requirements have been fully met and conferred.

4. We will only register applicants if their full name and date of birth matches those on the pass list so accuracy of data is very important.

5. We accept pass lists at any time of the year. If a pass list is updated, an updated version should be sent to us.

6. Pass lists should be sent to xpl@hcpc-uk.org in the format we require.

Without pass lists, we are unable to process applications for registration. This means that failure to submit them will result in individuals experiencing delays in their registration, affecting their ability to use the relevant protected title.

Therefore, we ask education providers to submit their pass lists as soon as practically possible to prevent any delays in registration.

For more information visit www.hcpc-uk.org/education/providers/passlists

05 May 2016

The 5 W’s of mediation

Head of Case Management, Eve Seall, provides an overview of the HCPC’s mediation pilot including how it can resolve fitness to practise (FtP) cases and avoid a contested hearing, whilst still ensuring public protection.

What... is mediation?

Mediation is a confidential process for people who have been involved in a dispute. They can meet, discuss issues and reach a solution with the help of a neutral mediator. It is a voluntary process; both parties must be willing to participate for it to work.

The mediation process is flexible and depends on each situation. Normally, the mediator meets each side separately and asks them to explain how they see the situation, how they would like it to change and how they feel it could be settled. This is then followed by a joint meeting involving both sides. It can take place in person or online.

Where... does mediation fit in with the HCPC’s role as a regulator?

Our role is to maintain high standards in the professions we regulate and to protect the public. As part of this, we want to provide a range of ways to settle disputes.

Mediation is a way of settling cases which promotes understanding between professionals and service users who have been in disagreement. This alternative approach avoids a contested hearing, whilst still ensuring the public is adequately protected.

When... can fitness to practise cases be referred to mediation?

Criteria have been set to ensure that only suitable cases are referred to the mediation process.

A case can be referred to mediation at the following stages of the fitness to practise process:

a) When a no case to answer decision is made by the Investigating Committee Panel where there is a realistic prospect of the facts being proved, but not the grounds or impairment.

b) When a case to answer decision has been made but there is a reasonable chance that mediation may resolve the concerns. The Committee can include a timeframe for attempting mediation and direct that the case be referred back should mediation be unsuccessful.

Why... can mediation be beneficial?

Mediation can have a number of benefits, including:
  • In instances where there is no case to answer, it can provide a way of dealing with issues that were not considered serious enough to form part of the allegation, but still need to be settled.
  • In instances where there is a case to answer, it can provide an alternative way to settle a case.
  • It can help the professional understand why a concern was raised, what led to it and whether there are things that can be done to prevent fitness to practise investigations in the future.
  • It can help both sides understand the situation from another point of view.
  • It can help everyone involved in a disagreement reach a solution together.
  • It can make both sides feel more involved in the decision-making process. This can mean that both sides are satisfied with the outcome.

Who... is the mediator?

We provide independent and experienced mediators who are trained and qualified. These individuals are not employed by HCPC.

The mediator listens to both sides and helps to manage the discussion. They do not take sides, give advice or make decisions - their role is to help all those involved reach an agreement which is acceptable to all.

A word from Council

“I am so pleased that the HCPC is providing mediation as one way of resolving cases. It fits well with our responsibility to both maintain standards and safeguard the health and wellbeing of service users. I have worked as a mediator in the past, so I know from experience how helpful mediation can be for all those involved.”

Jo Mussen, HCPC Council Member

For more information about the mediation process visit www.hcpc-uk.org/complaints/mediation

04 May 2016

9 things you should know about our Education Annual Report

Education Manager Ben Potter highlights key findings presented in the 2015 report, providing insight into our work in approving and monitoring UK education and training programmes.

1. 2014-15 marked the third and final year of the 93 scheduled approval visits to social work programmes in England following the transfer of regulatory functions from the General Social Care Council (GSCC) to the HCPC in 2012. We also undertook the final year of the 20 scheduled approval visits to post-registration programmes for approved mental health professionals (AMHP) following the introduction of the approval criteria for this entitlement in 2012-13. As a result, we have seen an anticipated reduction in our approvals work and an increase in our monitoring activity. Moving forward, our monitoring processes – including major change and annual monitoring – will increasingly be the main way in which we continue to assess approved programmes.

2. In contrast to previous years, approval visits continued into the summer months of July and August. Typically it takes three months after an approval visit for the process to finish and for a final decision about a programmes’ approval to be made. Because of this, the timing of summer visits may impact on programmes’ ability to recruit students if they want to start in September. To ensure there is sufficient time for any conditions on approval to be met before a September start date, we prefer to avoid visits in late summer. Education providers should also be aware that we require at least six months’ notice of a visit to a new programme to ensure effective preparation.

3. The most significant increase in approved programmes was in the paramedic profession where there was a 20% increase in 2014-15. This is linked to workforce planning for the profession which led to reactive commissioning, the creation of new programmes and an increase in student numbers for existing programmes. Whilst many programmes engaged with us early and we organised visits in good time, some did not until later in the year. This contributed to the high number of conditions placed on paramedic programmes, and meant that some education providers had to revise their initial estimated start dates.

4. Over the year, 796 conditions were set across the 100 programmes visited; an average of eight per programme. The majority of conditions set related to programme management and resources (SET 3) and practice placements (SET 5). Our guidance document provides further information about how we assess programmes against our standards.

5. We received 416 major change notifications; a 32% increase on last year and more than in any previous year. This indicates that 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.

6. We also considered 653 annual monitoring submissions - more than ever before. However 99% of programmes showed sufficient evidence of continuing to meet our Standards of education and training (SET) in 2014-15. This result demonstrates that our model of approval works and that programmes can continue to demonstrate how they continue to meet our standards via documentary submissions. 

7. As part of the 2015-16 annual monitoring process, education providers are expected to provide evidence to meet our new SET about service user and carer involvement. To assist with this, we have amended our communications to emphasise the additional evidence requirement. We will also increase the number of assessment days to enable us to minimise the number of submissions that will be considered via correspondence.

8. The percentage of programmes subject to concerns has remained below 1% in 2014-15. This is positive and highlights the fact that there are very few approved programmes that people have concerns about. It also emphasises the role our approval and monitoring processes play in ensuring that programmes continue to meet the SETs.

9. In 2014-15, following receipt of all the required documentation regarding a major change submission, it took on average just over two months for the process to be completed and the education provider notified of the outcome. This means that education providers were given a clear, unambiguous answer regarding their programme’s ongoing approval within a short timeframe, appropriate to the changes they had made.

The 2015 Education Annual Report is now available to download here.

For more information about our approval and monitoring processes for UK education and training programmes visit www.hcpc-uk.org/education

01 April 2016

Focus on Standard eight: Be open when things go wrong

Michael Guthrie, HCPC’s Director of Policy and Standards talks about a new standard which requires registrants to be open and honest when things go wrong.

What does the new standard say?

Standard eight says that registrants need to be open and honest when something has gone wrong with the care, treatment or other services that they provide. This includes letting service users and carers know; apologising; and taking action to put matters right if they can. The standard also says that registrants need to support service users and carers to raise concerns and be helpful and honest in their responses to complaints.

Why a new standard and why is it important?

The reports of inquiries into failings in health and social care services in recent years have emphasised the importance of organisations and individuals being open and honest when service users are harmed or could have been harmed, as a result of errors or mistakes in the care or treatment they have received. This is sometimes referred to as a ‘duty of candour’. In England, there is now a statutory duty of candour which some organisations in health and social care have to meet, and similar requirements are being introduced in the other UK countries.

The previous version of the Standards already required registrants to be honest and to protect service users from harm. The new standard builds on this to set out clearer and more specific expectations. We do not use the term ‘candour’ because of feedback that this term was not always understood.

The other UK wide regulators of health and care professionals either have or are introducing a similar standard for their registrants. We all want to make a small, but important, contribution to creating a culture that supports professionals being open and honest with service users and carers about mistakes and errors and one which is open to, and acts on, feedback – both positive and negative.

What does this mean for registrants?

We are asking registrants to be transparent in their work and to act appropriately to make sure that service users and carers are not kept in the dark when something goes wrong.

The work that health and care professionals do is very often highly pressured and rarely risk free. The standard isn’t about penalising registrants when inevitably mistakes happen or where outcomes are not as beneficial as they had hoped. But it is about expecting registrants to act appropriately when they identify that something has gone wrong. This includes letting the service user know but also, for example, making sure that any records are completed accurately. For registrants who are employed, this includes making sure that they use their employer’s incident reporting arrangements where appropriate.

The Standard includes an expectation that registrants will apologise when something goes wrong. Service users and carers have fed back to us about the power of apologies – that though simple and easy to give, they make a huge difference to the service user, and to their relationship with the professional, even where the person apologising had not made the mistake. We know that sometimes professionals can be reluctant to apologise for fear of the consequences. We are very clear that an apology is a positive thing and not an admission of liability or wrongdoing.

As with any of our standards, we expect registrants to use their professional judgement. For example, some registrants will work in teams where it might be more appropriate for another professional to inform a service user or to make an apology. We expect registrants to adhere to the principles of these standards and that they are able to justify their decisions and actions if asked to.

Further information about the Standards of conduct, performance and ethics is available here.

For more information about Standard eight, or to address any queries you may have, join in our tweetchat on Thursday 21 April at 6.00pm using the hashtag #my_standards

27 January 2016

Why are our Standards of conduct, performance and ethics important for service users?

Steve McNeice was a service user member of the Professional Liaison Group involved in revising our Standards of conduct, performance and ethics. Here, he reveals what these standards mean for service users and why they’re so important.

In March 2003 I contracted Group ‘A’ Streptococcus, which, after mutating a number of times, ultimately became Meningococcal Septicaemia. This resulted in the amputation of both my legs above the knee, the loss of the muscles in my right forearm, the loss of all my fingertips and the amputation of my little finger on my right hand. I also have significant lung capacity reduction, deafness in one ear and reduced hearing loss in the other.

As a consequence of managing these lifelong and complex conditions, I continue to experience and benefit from the services of a wide variety of allied health professionals (AHPs), including paramedics, prosthetists, orthotists, physiotherapists, occupational therapists and radiographers.

Reviewing the Standards

This previous and on-going patient experience as a long-term service user led to my involvement in reviewing and revising the HCPC’s Standards of conduct, performance and ethics (SCPE) as part of a Professional Liaison Group (PLG). These are Standards for the 16 professions regulated by the HCPC, setting out in broad and easily understandable terms the behaviours expected of its registered health and care professionals. My role within the PLG entailed making suggestions about how these standards could be made more accessible, practical and useable, particularly for service users.

Health and care professionals must adhere to SCPE as a condition of their continuing HCPC registration. The Standards are important because they outline a minimum quality of service that the public can, or should, expect from their health and care professional. This means that they are equipped with a better understanding upon which to base their expectations for any intervention or service being provided.

Reflecting service user expectations

In terms of my own expectations, I believe that AHPs should work ‘with’ service users. Communication should be appropriate in language and manner, allowing me to make an informed choice (albeit in conjunction with the professional). I would also expect them to work within their own knowledge and skill set, recognising any limitations whilst acting at all times in my best interest.

The revised Standards of conduct, performance and ethics absolutely reflect my expectations. Like most service users with lifelong and often complex conditions, I have changing needs. I therefore feel privileged that I’m able to benefit from the skills, expertise and knowledge afforded to me by my caring AHPs.

Building the relationship between professionals and service users

Importantly, the revised SCPE include a new standard about registrants being open and honest when things go wrong. I would add that this should be a two-way process: if I do something wrong, I would be the first to apologise. This trust and mutual respect is crucial for service users who have to build long-term relationships in order to work constructively with AHPs. Indeed, it can directly impact meeting any goals or on-going needs.

Registrants are also required to report and escalate any concerns they might have about the safety and wellbeing of service users. Clearly, this is essential. News reports often highlight the lessons to be learnt from whatever incident may have occurred, but I believe that prevention is generally better than cure.

Standards of conduct, performance and ethics are, of course, directly relevant to health and care professionals regulated by the HCPC, as well as those aspiring to join the Register. However, they are also of particular interest and importance to service users, carers and the general public. I know and understand, from my own personal experience, the benefit to patients of a skilled and professional workforce. So it is particularly pleasing to have been part of the revision of a set of standards that seeks to support, maintain and encourage that workforce.

More information about the HCPC’s Standards of conduct, performance and ethics is available here.

26 January 2016

SCPE and me

HCPC registrant, Council Chair and educator, Elaine Buckley, explains the process involved in revising our Standards of Conduct, Performance and Ethics, and highlights their importance to health and care professionals.

On 26 January 2016, we published our revised Standards of conduct, performance and ethics. These Standards have always served to set out what is expected of me as an HCPC registrant. They have provided guidance as I’ve progressed in my career as a physiotherapist, and have assisted me as an educator in articulating these expectations to students as they embark on qualifying in their chosen profession. The Standards are equally as important to the HCPC as a regulator. They help us to determine suitability of character for individuals who apply to our Register, and in cases where concerns are raised about a registrant’s fitness to practise.

As Chair of the working group - called a Professional Liaison Group (PLG) - which assisted with the revision of the Standards, I have been impressed with the thoroughness of the process: particularly in terms of the gathering of evidence to inform any changes and the level of stakeholder engagement. The PLG comprised a variety of stakeholders, including service users and carers, professional bodies, employers and registrants.

The journey to revise the Standards began with a number of commissioned projects capturing the views of a wide range of stakeholders. This included workshops with different groups of service users and carers; focus groups and interviews with registrants and employers; and discussion with Fitness to Practise (FtP) Panel Chairs.

The PLG then reviewed the evidence gathered, debated issues and suggested changes to the previous Standards. This resulted in the development of a robust set of draft Standards, which went out for public consultation UK-wide. The consultation elicited 217 responses from stakeholders including individual health and care professionals, professional bodies, employers and educators. In addition, we benefited enormously from the views of service users and carers at a series of UK-wide events we held during the consultation period. Further changes were made to the Standards in light of the consultation.

The key changes from the previous version of the Standards include a standard about reporting and escalating concerns about the safety and wellbeing of service users. There is also a standard about being open and honest when things go wrong: individuals are expected to tell service users and carers when they become aware that something has gone wrong with the care, treatment or other services that they provide and to take action to put matters right wherever possible. They are also required to consider making an apology and to make sure that the service user receives an explanation of what happened.

It was essential that we refreshed the Standards in such a way that ensured they remained relevant for all 16 professional groups that we regulate. Our registrants work across a range of settings: in the private sector, NHS and in local authorities, to name but a few. This meant that the PLG’s discussions focused as much on format, as on content.

As such, we have made changes to the structure of the Standards to improve their accessibility. We hope that the new concise layout will ensure ease of understanding, not only for our registrants, but also for service users and carers. Despite the new ‘look’ of the Standards, registrants should be assured that the content remains consistent.   

I hope that you will find our revised Standards clear and easy to engage with, and that they will continue to guide your practise as you progress through your career.

The Standards of conduct, performance and ethics are now available to download here. The HCPC will be producing a range of communications to highlight what the revised Standards mean for registrants, including regular articles within our In Focus newsletter, blog pieces, live forums and social media messaging.

For more information visit www.hcpc-uk.org/aboutregistration/standards/standardsofconductperformanceandethics

22 January 2016

Reviewing the Standards of proficiency for social workers in England

Chair of our Education and Training Committee, Joy Tweed, highlights discussions from our recent event which contributed to our current review of the Standards of proficiency for social workers in England. 

On Thursday 21 January I had the privilege to chair an event at the HCPC which brought together a broad range of stakeholders from within the social work community, including educators, managers, learning and development professionals and newly qualified social workers.

The reason for our meeting? To discuss the Standards of proficiency for social workers in England. These standards, which set out the threshold entry level to the Register, are essential to regulation. They articulate our expectations of the skills and knowledge required for safe and effective practise and we use them across our regulatory processes specifically in education, fitness to practise and registration.

The review is part of our ongoing commitment to ensuring our Standards are relevant, up-to-date and fit for purpose. The review is particularly timely now that we have completed our three year programme of approval of social work education programmes. We can also take into account changes in the sectors since the standards were last published – for example, the Knowledge and Skills statements published by the Chief Social Workers for Children and Adults.

Our event was part of a broader programme of work to engage with the sector. We plan to consult on proposed revised standards and publish them later this year. 

As part of the review, we have already benefited from the feedback of educators, HCPC visitors and registration assessors, practice placement educators, service users and carers and others including principal social workers and managers.

The feedback from this work and our event is remarkably similar. Some stakeholders want us to better articulate the relationship between our standards and other frameworks like the Professional Capabilities Framework (PCF) and the Knowledge and Skills Statements. Others were keen for us to ensure that the standards were more explicit about social work values. At the event, we discussed the need to include specific references on leadership and strengthen our wording on supervision and reflection as well as emotional resilience. We told participants about the findings of a piece of work that Shaping our lives did on our behalf, speaking with service users and carers about their experiences and perspectives on the Standards. Service users and carers emphasised the importance of good communication to developing an effective relationship between social worker and client, one that ensured partnership in decision making.

Overall, however, the overwhelming majority of individuals we have spoken to so far agreed that the existing Standards of proficiency are clear and relevant to social workers in England and that few changes are required. This is very encouraging as we see these Standards playing a key role in generating the next generation of professionals.

What struck me about our event was the breadth of involvement across the sector and the engagement by very busy people who were all committed, passionate and enthusiastic about helping us to make these very important Standards relate to the work of social workers every day.

This is just the start of the process. There will be an opportunity for the wider social work community to provide their feedback when we consult on the revised draft standards later in the year.

In the meantime, I would like to thank everyone involved so far for taking time out of their busy lives and so readily sharing their skills and knowledge.

Joy Tweed
Chair, Education and Training Committee