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Protecting the public
Promoting professionalism

Fitness to practise annual report 2018

Who is the HCPC?

We are a regulator set up to protect the public by:

 

  • setting standards for the professions we regulate;
  • publishing and maintaining a Register1 of health and care professionals who meet these standards2 ;
  • approving and monitoring education and training programmes so that when someone successfully completes a programme they are eligible to apply to the Register; and
  • acting if someone on our Register falls below our standards.
In the year 1 April 2017 to 31 March 2018 we regulated 16 professions

Arts Therapists

Biomedical scientists

Chiropodists / Podiatrists

Clinical Scientists

Dietitians

Hearing aid dispensers

Occupational therapists

Operating department practitioners

Orthoptists

Paramedics

Physiotherapists

Practitioner psychologists

Prosthetists / orthotists

Radiographers

Social workers in England

Speech and language therapists

Professionals on our register

What is fitness to practise?

All our registrants must follow our standards of conduct, performance and ethics and standards of proficiency in order to be registered and maintain their registration.

When we say that a registrant is ‘fit to practise’ we mean that they have the skills, knowledge and character to practise their profession safely and effectively. Being fit to practise is about more than being a competent health and care professional. The need for registrants to keep their knowledge and skills up to date, to act competently and remain within the bounds of their competence are all important aspects of fitness to practise.

Maintaining fitness to practise also requires registrants to treat service users with dignity and respect, to collaborate and communicate effectively, to act with honesty and integrity and to manage any risk posed by their own health.

The standards are important as they help us to decide whether we should take action if someone raises a concern about a registrant’s practice.

What is the purpose of the process?

Its purpose is to identify registrants who are not fit to practise and, where necessary, take steps to restrict their ability to practise. This provides protection for the public, and maintaining confidence in the professions that we regulate and in us as a regulator.

Foreword

Welcome to our Fitness to practise annual report: performance overview and analysis for the period 1 April 2017 to 31 March 2018.

This report provides statistical information about our work and explains how this work protects the public and ensures our registrants meet our standards.

I hope you find this report of interest. If you have any feedback, please contact our Assurance and Development team at ad@hcpc-uk.org

John Barwick
Executive Director of Regulation

Concerns received

Anyone can contact us and raise a concern about a registered professional. This includes members of the public, employers, the police and other professionals.

The proportion of registrants who have had a concern raised about them has remained the same as last year, at 0.64 per cent. This means that only one in 157 registrants were the subject of a new concern about their fitness to practise. Please note that in a small number of instances a registrant would be the subject of more than one concern.

Where concerns come from

Members of the public continue to raise the largest proportion of concerns, over 42 per cent of the new concerns raised. While employers continue to be the second largest source of concerns, comprising 26 per cent of the total.

The proportion of cases which were the result of a self-referral by the registrant has remained the third most common source of concern, however the percentage has gone down to 18 per cent this year from 20 per cent last year.

In 2017–18, 1,234 cases were closed as they did not meet the Standard of Acceptance following case assessment.

Where a concern does not meet the Standard of Acceptance, even after we have sought further information, the case is closed.

[3] Includes solicitors acting on behalf of complainants, hospitals / clinics (when not acting in the capacity of employer), colleagues who are not registrants and the Disclosure and Barring Service, who notify us of individuals who have been barred from working with vulnerable adults and / or children. Other types of complainants may all fall within this category.

Concerns raised with us

Professions with the largest proportion of concerns raised with us

Who raised the concerns

Decisions by Investigating Committee panels

Number of concluded public hearings

Conduct and Competence Committee panels and Health Committee panels consider all the evidence put before them. They make decisions at final hearings about whether restrictions should be placed on a registrant’s practice. This is in order to protect the public. ICPs can make a final decision that the individual should be removed from the Register. Or, that the Register should be amended on cases where there is an incorrect or fraudulent entry allegation.

Our Health and Care Professions Tribunal Service (HCPTS) website includes decision-making panels who are independent from the investigating function. In 2017–18, the HCPTS completed the following.

Concluded 432 final hearings
reviewed 250 substantive hearing outcomes
Concluded 432 final hearings
held 505 interim order and interim order review hearings
a total of 1,194 hearing events

Decisions from all public hearings are published on our Health and Care Professions Tribunal Service (HCPTS)

Nature of concerns

We develop our tools for capturing information, which may provide useful learning points about the nature of concerns. We are currently developing a case classification policy to enable us to capture information about the nature of concerns more consistently and at the key points in the life cycle of cases.

The most frequent concerns considered at final hearings are listed in the full report (Section 3.4: Public hearings), and some example case studies. The case studies cover different professions and reference our standards of conduct performance and ethics and standards of proficiency. They show examples of behaviour that fell below our standards and measures panels took to protect the public. We hope these are useful for registrants to understand the type of conduct that could lead to proceedings and for the public to understand the types of concerns that progress to a hearing.

Continuous improvement

The role of the Professional Standards Authority and High Court cases

The Professional Standards Authority for Health and Social Care (PSA) is an independent body that oversees the work of the nine health and care regulatory bodies in the UK. The PSA reviews our performance, audits and scrutinises our fitness to practise cases and decisions. In response to the PSA’s performance review 2016–17, this year we started a major project. This was to address the areas for improvement identified by the authority.

The PSA can refer any regulator’s final decision in a fitness to practise case to the High Court (or in Scotland, the Court of Session) if it considers that the decision is not sufficient for public protection. In 2017–18, the PSA referred one of our cases to the High Court. However, the matter was resolved by means of reaching a consent order between us, the PSA and the registrant.

Registrants may also appeal against the panel’s decision if they think it is wrong or unfair. In 2017–18, out of 432 final hearing events, only eight registrants sought to appeal decisions made by the Conduct and Competence Committee to the High Court. Five of these appeals were dismissed by the High Court. Three appeals were settled by consent with an agreement for the matters to be remitted to a new panel to reconsider the sanction.

Working with stakeholders

We aim to provide the best customer service to those involved in the FTP process. We ask for feedback to find out what is working and what we can do to improve, in line with our customer service policy.

In the Fitness to Practise Department we operate a feedback mechanism and engage with the individuals who are part of the proceedings to let us know how we have done, and how we can improve their experience of the process.

FTP forums

Twice a year we hold FTP forums, attended by members of professional bodies and trade unions. We discuss developments in regulation, particularly those which may affect registrants going through FTP proceedings. This might include:

  • new or updated policies;
  • statistics and trends;
  • research work; and
  • or operational approaches.

Our aim is to get a better understanding of the issues faced by our stakeholders and to work with them to achieve balanced outcomes for registrants and the public.

Recent analysis showed that about 70 per cent of complainants and registrants who were subject to a complaint and provided feedback said that they were satisfied with our service. The remainder were either neutral or not satisfied.

Want to submit feedback?

You can contact us with your feedback in the following ways.

Service and Complaints Manager
The Health and Care Professions Council
Park House
184–186 Kennington Park Road
London
SE11 4BU

Tel: 44(0)20 7840 9708
Email: feedback@hcpc-uk.org