Fitness to practice 'stressful and lacks humanity': HCPC chief executive

John Barwick says rules are ‘medieval’

Published: 11 March 2020 HCPC

The new CEO of the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC), has said the "framework for the regulation of healthcare professionals in the UK is no longer fit for purpose."

He described it as "outdated" with "rules ranging from the ‘medieval’ to early 20th century."

The chief executive of the regulator for radiographers and other allied health professions, John Barwick, continued, "The current arrangements are prescriptive, rigid and inconsistent, with a multitude of regulators each operating to different legislation and rules. This results in a complicated, overly adversarial and punitive fitness to practice process that is often stressful and lacking in humanity.

"This appears to be a regulatory regime that attaches insufficient value to supporting professionals."

Previously the organisation's executive director of regulation, John Barwick was interim CEO after his predecessor, Marc Seale, left in the Autumn of last year.

"John’s passion, leadership and vision shone through, and he was compelling in his strategy for the future direction of our organisation," the HCPC's chair of council, Christine Elliott, said when his appointment was announced.

"As regulators, we are also advisers to more than a quarter of a million health and care practitioners. John’s experience in this field will be instrumental in taking the HCPC forward in innovative and inspirational ways.”

John Barwick also criticised the length of time that the fitness to practice process can take. "Under the HCPC’s current legislation, if a registrant has been convicted of a serious criminal offence, even though they may have been sentenced and could be in prison, we still have to continue through each stage, including gathering evidence, giving the registrant the right to reply and having a final hearing.

"It may be 15 months before we’re able to conclude the case. This takes up resource which could be focused elsewhere, frustratingly for what is an automatic strike off offence."

He continued, "We want to create a process which supports professionals to address concerns about their practice and help create an environment of openness where there can be honest discussions when things go wrong."

Read John Barwick's blogs.