The Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) has launched a new corporate strategy to help address the failings in its fitness to practise procedures identified by its own regulator.
The HCPC met only one of the five standards on fitness to practise regulation in the annual review by the Professional Standards Authority (PSA) for 2019/20.
The PSA said that its ‘longstanding concerns’ had not yet been fully addressed on the quality and timeliness of the HCPC’s investigations, decision-making at all stages of the fitness to practise process, HCPC’s compliance with its own policies, the quality and frequency of risk assessments completed by staff, record-keeping, and the customer service and support provided to those involved in fitness to practise proceedings.
Now the council plans to create a more compassionate and empathic culture towards fitness to practice investigations and a prevention-focused regulatory approach over the next five years.
Its focus will be on six key areas of work, to continuously improve and innovate. promote high quality professional practice, promote the value of regulation, develop insight and
exert influence, build a resilient, healthy, capable and sustainable organisation, and be visible, engaged and informed.
The HCPC said it would support quality practice by articulating expected standards and helping registrants overcome any barriers they face in meeting those standards: ‘This will ultimately reduce the number of fitness to practise concerns, which can be stressful for all those involved.’
It will also aim to incorporate the lessons learned from Covid-19: ‘The HCPC aims to harness the flexible and agile approach it took in responding to the pandemic and embed this in its day-to-day work.’
Chair of the HCPC Christine Elliott said: 'This is an important moment on our journey to becoming a high performing regulator. Tested by the Covid-19 pandemic, HCPC has stepped up and we have played our part in protecting the public throughout the crisis. This strategy will help us to lock in the new ways of working that we have developed and the rapid improvements we’ve made'.
Fitness to practise concerns against AHP professionals increased from 1,653 in 2012/13 to 2,424 in 2018/19. More than half of the concerns raised about radiographers (35 out of 69) in 2018/19, did not meet the requirements necessary to be considered by an Investigating Committee Panel.