13 April 2022 | by Practice Board
The Practice Board’s HCPC Subgroup was established in May last year, principally to improve liaison between the society and the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC).
The group has gathered concerns from members and we quickly identified a number of common themes. These were mostly related to registration and renewals, return to practise and fitness to practise issues. We have been systematically going through these concerns with the HCPC and seeking a resolution or developing plans to tackle them.
I chair the subgroup which meets on a quarterly basis. I am happy to report that there has been marked and significant progress in communication and liaison.
The HCPC has a dedicated professional liaison manager, Kellie Green, who is the HCPC’s head of professionalism and upstream regulation, and we are meeting with her monthly. Meetings have also been arranged between the CEOs of HCPC and the BPS, with the support of the subgroup.
The first successful and productive meeting has taken place between the CEOs of HCPC and the BPS’s CEO Sarb Bajwa supported by Tony Lavender. It has been agreed that this will be repeated three times a year. It provides the opportunity to share developments in both organisations and to work towards resolving issues that have been a concern to members.
It is clear the HCPC wants to improve. It wants more collaboration with professional bodies, and it wants to improve relationships.
Accordingly, it has established quarterly professional body meetings, with topics including standards of proficiency, registration, fitness to practise, regulatory reform, and equality, diversity and inclusion.
The HCPC recognises that it got the renewal process for psychologists wrong, particularly for our Scottish colleagues. Our letter to the HCPC registrar highlighted the significant difficulties some psychologists had been placed in by the HCPC’s changes to its processes.
This included sanction, in some cases, by the HCPC and employers. Thankfully these matters are now resolved.
The HCPC states that it has learnt from the process, and that in future there will be greater use of social media for communicating with registrants. More will be done to effectively communicate the re-registration process and timelines (including an email and letter). HCPC has apologised for the long delays in the registration process.
We have also highlighted challenges faced by members during the return to practise process, which members characterised as overly bureaucratic, burdensome and off-putting. For example, the form did not include provision for psychologists working in independent practice.
Another very senior psychologist was informed that their 15 years of prior practise was not considered relevant to gain re-admittance to the register. This obviously begs the question of how well the practise of psychology was understood. We are working with HCPC colleagues to improve this understanding and have offered input to its staff training.
The HCPC is working towards a ‘compassionate and person-centred fitness to practise process’. All HCPC staff have attended compassionate regulator workshops, and these included conversations about the impact of HCPC’s actions, particularly FtP, which in some cases has lasted for years.
We highlighted a case where an employer quickly found no case to answer. However, the HCPC’s FtP case took two years before the case was concluded - as having no case to answer and no further action required. The member thought this outcome was ‘rather by accident than design’.
We also highlighted the case of a BPS member who was arrested at an Extinction Rebellion protest. The member had self-referred to the HCPC FtP. Eventually, this case was not found and no further action was taken. We were advised that self-referral had not been necessary.
However, because a self-referral was made it triggered the FtP process.
In response, HCPC is to develop a briefing on when a registrant (psychologist) should self-refer to the FtP team. The HCPC guidance on health and character declarations can be found here.
The HCPC supports the continued statutory regulation of the current professions and have highlighting requests they have had in the past. It takes a neutral stance on bringing additional professions into regulation.
Our own position has been somewhat different and we have highlighted to the DHSC where we feel additional protection is needed.
We continue to meet with HCPC colleagues on a regular basis and raise matters that have been drawn to our attention by members.
Please do contact us if there are areas of improvement we can work on with the HCPC.