The Professional Standards Authority (‘PSA’) for Health and Social Care oversees the nine statutory bodies that regulate health professionals in the United Kingdom and social care in England. The PSA are an independent body who are accountable to Parliament and help to monitor and improve the protection of the public. They use performance reviews to question the regulators they oversee about their work and encourage them to improve the way they register and regulate health and care practitioners.
The PSA carried out a review of the Health and Care Professions Council (‘HCPC’), who regulate 350,330 registrants who practice a variety of health and care professions, and assessed them against the PSA’s Standards of Good Regulation. The PSA reported that the HCPC had 18 out of 24 standards in this review period.
The HCPC were found to have not met a total of six standards relating to Fitness to Practise standards. The PSA raised concerns about how well the HCPC is protecting the public and relate to:
- A potential barrier to progressing complaints caused by the revised Standard of Acceptance (SOA), which is the HCPC’s threshold for accepting complaints
- The quality of risk assessments being undertaken, and the approach taken by the HCPC in seeking interim orders
- The sufficiency of some of the HCPC’s investigations
- The HCPC’s process for discontinuance and disposal of cases by consent, as well as its approach to health concerns in fitness to practise cases
- Mixed performance in the time taken to progress complaints through the fitness to practise process
- Some concerns around the reasoning and consistency of the HCPC’s fitness to practise decision-making.
The PSA acknowledged the improvements that had been implemented by the HCPC such as the redrafting of and providing new guidance, reviewing their processes and staff training and found that these measures have not had enough time to impact on performance this year.
The HCPC is currently getting to grips with changes to their fitness to practise processes and they are likely to re-assess these following the PSA’s comments. In particular, the PSA’s concerns about the reasoning and consistency of their decision making, the revised Standard of Acceptance and the process for discontinuance and disposal of cases by consent, may cause the HCPC to make further changes to their processes to ensure they are more robust, which in turn will impact registrants who are under investigation.
If you have been referred to the HCPC it is vital that you seek specialist legal advice in order to protect your interests and safeguard your practise. For immediate advice from one of our specialist HCPC lawyers call 01616 966 229.