22 July 2015

Applying for HCPC registration?

Registration Manager Dushyan Ashton highlights what you need to do to avoid having your application returned as incomplete.

Proud excited faces, mortar boards scattered against a sky-blue background, and groups of students posing in smart black gowns. The numerous photos posted on social media by newly qualified students - now graduating after successfully completing one of our approved programmes - are a happy reminder that graduation season is in full swing.

All those students completing an approved education and training programme are required to join our Register before they can practise using one of our legally protected titles.

During this current period our Registration Department will receive lots of new applications. We aim to process applications within ten working days of receipt of a complete application. This ensures that newly qualified professionals are added to our online Register as soon as possible.

It is important to make sure that your application is complete before submitting it to us. Common mistakes include failing to provide the appropriate documentation, or not including a fee with the application form. Incomplete applications will be returned for resubmission, which could potentially delay your entry to the HCPC Register.

To avoid this happening follow our checklist:
  • Enclose two certified copies of documents to confirm your identity; one document should contain your photograph, one should provide your current address.
  • All signatures must be original and dated within the last six months.
  • Provide certified proof of any name changes; e.g. a certified photocopy of a relevant name change document such as a marriage certificate or deed poll.
  • A fee must be submitted with your application form.
  • The character reference page must be completed with your details and your referee’s details.
  • If you answered ‘yes’ to any question in section 3 (character and health self- declarations / vetting and barring schemes), you must provide additional information.

For further information about applying to join the HCPC Register
visit www.hcpc-uk.org/apply

14 July 2015

Fitness to practise: advice for employers and managers


HCPC's Head of Fitness to Practise Service Improvement, Sarita Wilson, highlights 10 things you should know if you have concerns about an employee’s fitness to practise.

1. If a registrant is ‘fit to practise’ this means that they have the skills, knowledge and character to practise their profession safely and effectively.

Fitness to practise (FtP) isn’t just about professional performance; it also includes acts by a registrant which may affect public protection or confidence in the profession. For example, if a registrant has been cautioned or convicted for a criminal offence.

2. The Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) will consider cases which question whether a registrant’s fitness to practise is ‘impaired’, or negatively affected.

This could be by misconduct, a lack of competence, a caution or conviction, the registrant’s physical or mental health, or a decision made by another regulator responsible for health and social care.

3. Incidents involving employment issues which don’t affect the safety or wellbeing of service users do not need to be referred to HCPC.

For example: lateness or poor time-keeping (unless it has a direct effect on service users); personality conflicts (as long as there is no evidence of bullying or harassment); sickness or other absence from work.

4. Concerns should be reported to the HCPC if…

…the behaviour or actions of a registrant have raised concerns about their fitness to practise; you have dismissed or suspended a registrant; you have taken the decision to downgrade the status of a registrant (for example, you place them under supervision).

5. Fitness to practise and employment processes are different and can result in different outcomes.

Issues that cause you as an employer or manager to take disciplinary action may not result in the HCPC placing any sanction on the registrant. In other cases, HCPC may take more serious action than you, which means that the registrant may not be able to work in their profession or has restrictions placed on their practice.

6. Letting HCPC know about your concerns does not necessarily mean that fitness to practise proceedings will begin immediately.

Neither does it mean you would have to suspend or end your own procedures. In many instances it will be more appropriate for HCPC to wait until you have finished your procedures. Even if HCPC does not immediately pursue an allegation, they are better placed to protect the public.

7. To raise a concern you should fill in an employer referral form.

This can be downloaded at www.hcpc-uk.org/complaints/
employers/raiseaconcern and emailed or posted to HCPC. Anything sent to HCPC will be copied to the registrant you are referring so that they can respond. If there is anything you would prefer not to be sent to the registrant, you should notify HCPC.

8. If you raise a concern with HCPC you can expect everyone involved to be treated fairly and be given an explanation as to what will happen at each stage.

You will also be given details of a case manager who you can contact should you have any questions.

9. You may be required to provide a witness statement or give evidence.

If the case is referred to a final hearing, you or members of your staff may need to meet with the HCPC’s solicitor to provide a witness statement. You may also be required to come to the hearing and give evidence. HCPC will organise your travel and accommodation if this is the case.

10. Employing a registrant who is the subject of a current FtP investigation.

Being the subject of an FtP investigation does not automatically make a registrant unsuitable for employment as they can continue to practise unless the HCPC has imposed an interim order preventing them from practising or placing restrictions on their practice. You can find out if a registrant has an interim order made against them by searching the HCPC Register.

For further information and advice for employers and managers visit
www.hcpc-uk.org/complaints/employers

30 June 2015

Welcome from one Chair to another

I’m told, on the best authority (knowing nothing about football) that England has a reputation for keeping its goalkeepers until they are well past their best. As I stand down from my role as Chair of HCPC after nine years, I hope very much that I am not in that category. I have had a fascinating and privileged time at HCPC, and have been part of huge growth and change. I am grateful to my colleagues on the Council and to the employees of HCPC, many of whom I have worked with over many years. It gives me great pleasure to welcome Elaine Buckley, from Sheffield Hallam University, who will step into the role on the 1 July, and I can think of no-one who comes to the job with more enthusiasm, commitment and clear understanding of what regulation is for.

At its best, professional regulation exists for one purpose; to safeguard the public, to make sure professionals are doing their job to a consistent standard, so that the public know what to expect and get what they expect. Regulators are the gatekeepers, the patrols and the judges of the professions. It is for others to be the promoters, advocates and educators. Most of the time, this collaborative approach works well. It would be foolhardy to suggest that there are not many challenges along the way, and tensions will always arise between those who regulate and those who are regulated. For me, the essential components of success are embedded in values. Values define the personality of an organisation, and if people have clarity of purpose in what they do they are less likely to become distracted and pulled towards work that is best carried out by others.

And finally, I would want to add one more observation. I believe that the HCPC has never, and will never, settle for the status quo. It will always be changing, moving forward, recognising that whilst change is unsettling, it is part of the discomfort that goes with improvement.

Anna van der Gaag
Chair

16 March 2015

AMHP training and education programmes: how can the conditions set during 2013/14 approval visits inform and guide education providers?

This was one of the key questions considered by our education team following the first year review of approval visits to AMHP programmes. Education Manager, Ben Potter, explains.

As part of the transfer of the General Social Care Council’s (GSCC) regulatory functions to the HCPC in August 2012, we became responsible for approving and monitoring AMHP education and training programmes in England.

All approved AMHP programmes are required to meet our criteria and conditions can be placed on programmes that do not. These conditions must be met before we can approve or continue to approve a programme.

During the 2013-14 academic year we considered 17 programmes at 11 education providers. We are scheduled to visit a further ten transitionally approved programmes at eight providers in 2014-15.

All AMHP education and training programmes visited in 2013/14 have now demonstrated how they have met any conditions placed on them – thus demonstrating how they meet our criteria – and are now approved.

To help, inform and guide education providers for the future, here we consider the two areas that incurred the highest number of conditions so that we can provide further understanding of certain aspects of our approval criteria. Our full report – Review of the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) approval visits to approved mental health professional (AMHP) education and training programmes in the 2013-14 academic year – is available to download.

Practice placements

As an education provider, you need to own and manage practice placements, including policies and procedures around approval and monitoring of placement settings; the staff in place; and ensuring that placement settings provide a safe and supportive environment.

When setting conditions in these areas, we often found that education providers would not own the policies, or would make assumptions that the placements were well-resourced in terms of staff, due to them being in statutory settings.

There were also assumptions by education providers that placements were providing a safe and supportive environment for students, due to the post registration nature of these programmes meaning that students were often employees of the organisation that provided their placements.

When we applied conditions in this area, education providers had often not considered that these employees / students need to be supported differently when undertaking activities to support their AMHP training in their place of work, when compared to how they need to be supported when carrying out their day to day role.

Documentation

Documentation underpins how programmes run in every area. We require documentation to communicate expectations about how a programme will interact with its stakeholders – including students, placement providers, and staff – and that it clearly defines the roles and responsibilities of all parties in the running of the programme.

As an education provider, if your documentation is of a poor standard, we are unable to make a well-informed judgement about whether particular criterion are met. When we are unable to fully assess and reach a decision, we need to apply a condition to ensure that the criterion is met.

How can understanding these key issues help to inform a future approval visit?

As an organisation, we have learnt a great deal from these visits and about how we will aim to help, inform and guide education providers participating in future visits.

You can find a range of guidance about our approval visits on the HCPC website. There are also online resources, featuring case studies and presentations from our seminars delivered to education providers in autumn 2014.

If your AMHP programme is being approved in 2015, or if you would like advice about the AMHP approval criteria, you can contact the member of our team allocated to manage your approval visit, or you can email education@hcpc-uk.org.


09 March 2015

Top 10 tips for completing your CPD profile

Have you been selected for CPD audit? Here’s ten top tips for completing your profile.

1. Include a dated list of your professional development activities within the audit period - the last two years of registration. If you have any gaps of three months or more, they will need to be explained.

2. Don’t just describe your day-to-day work. Choose a range of different activities you have undertaken over the past two years (between four and six in total) and describe what you learned from each.

3. Provide good evidence for each of the activities. Reflective logs, case studies, presentations, certificates and feedback from your service users would all be relevant.

4. Remember, it is about quality not quantity - choose evidence which shows how you think you have met the standards.

5. Ensure confidentiality when including your evidence - make sure that none of your evidence or your statement includes references to named individuals.

6. Make sure that the evidence you send will back up the statements made in your profile. It should show that you have undertaken the activities you have referred to, and should also show how they have improved the quality of your work and benefited service users.

7. Be concise, but provide sufficient detail on how your learning activities had an impact on your service, and be clear about how each standard has been met.

8. Keep a personal log of your continuing professional development, so that if you move jobs or your circumstances change you will still have access to it.

9. Don’t forget that the summary of your practice history should help to show the assessors how your development activities are linked to your work.

10. The council’s approach to assessing professional development focuses on the outcome of your activities - how they have benefited you and your service users, not how many hours or points you have. It’s up to you, along with your manager, to think about what you need to do to keep up to date in your area of practice.

For more information and advice for completing your CPD profile, visit
www.hcpc-uk.org/registrants/cpd.
 

 
 
 

23 February 2015

The 5 W’s of the amended approvals process for supplementary and independent prescribing programmes

Head of Educational Development, Brendon Edmonds, summarises the HCPC’s recent review of the amended approval process for supplementary and independent prescribing (SPIP) post-registration programmes.

An introduction to independent prescribing

Independent prescribing is prescribing by an appropriately qualified practitioner responsible for the assessment of patients with undiagnosed or diagnosed conditions, and for decisions about the clinical management. Independent prescribers can prescribe any medicine for any medical condition within their competence.

In 2009, the Department of Health (DH) published a report looking at the use of medicines by the allied health professions (AHPs). The report looked at whether prescribing and medicine supply mechanisms for AHPs should change to address patient and service needs. It found a strong case for extending independent prescribing to chiropodists/podiatrists and physiotherapists. In July 2012, the DH announced that legislation would be passed to allow appropriately trained chiropodists/podiatrists and physiotherapists to act, and be annotated on our Register, as independent prescribers.

As a result of this new legislation, the HCPC developed and published standalone standards for prescribing. We also amended the approval process for supplementary and independent prescribing (SPIP) post-registration programmes, which was reviewed in the 2013-14 academic year.

Here, we summarise the review and its key findings. The full report is available to download here.

WHEN…
 
When did the HCPC’s standards for prescribing come into effect following the revised legislation?

As part of the legislative change, we produced standards for prescribing. These came into effect from August 2013, following the legislation passing.

To develop these standards, we engaged with stakeholders and undertook a public consultation. The standards cover two areas: standards for education providers and standards of SPIP prescribers. The standards for education providers are based on our standards of education and training, whilst those for all prescribers are proficiency based, and expand upon the standards of proficiency required of chiropodists/podiatrists, physiotherapists and radiographers who undertake supplementary prescribing.

WHY...
 
Why does the HCPC have an amended approval process for SPIP post-registration education and training programmes?

The development of this amended approval process was a direct response to the DH changes to prescribing legislation in 2012.

It was already commonplace for education providers to deliver independent prescribing (IP) programmes for professions that we don’t regulate (pharmacists and nurses) and supplementary prescribing (SP) for ones that we do (physiotherapists, radiographers and chiropodists/podiatrists).

However, we needed to be sure that independent prescribing could be supported for our professions and in relation to our prescribing standards.  As we already approve SP programmes, we were satisfied that new independent prescribing programmes would already meet some of the standards for prescribing. We were also satisfied we didn’t need to conduct a full approval visit to assess them - hence the need for an amended approval process.

This gave eligible education providers the opportunity to gain approval for prescribing programmes in a significantly shorter timeframe than our standard approval process. In fact on average, programmes were approved ten weeks after their documentary submission – less than half the average time taken for programmes via the full process (22 weeks).

This really demonstrates how we’re able to amend our processes to support the work and initiatives of health and care providers.

WHO…
 
Who did the legislative changes affect and how did this impact education providers?

The changes to prescribing legislation meant that our chiropodist/podiatrist and physiotherapist registrants could act as independent prescribers once appropriately trained and annotated on our Register.

Prior to, and soon after, the legislation being passed, we wrote to education providers which delivered approved supplementary prescribing (SP) programmes to let them know how the amended approval process would work. We also advised them we would assess their programmes against the newly published standards for prescribing.  

Our process reduced the burden of work required for education providers to evidence how they met the required standards when compared to the full approval process. This was because they were only required to focus on the standards which were directly impacted by the introduction of independent prescribing. 

WHERE…  
 
Where did the HCPC find its visitors for the approvals and monitoring work?

We work with visitors who make the assessments of programmes to ensure they meet our standards. For prescribing, we set rules about selecting visitors for this specific area of approvals and monitoring work.

Our visitors work together in pairs to make an assessment.  At least one of the visitors had to be from a non-medical prescribing profession which was entitled to undertake independent prescribing training (a nurse or pharmacist). This visitor was required to be registered, with the entitlement recorded on their respective register.

We also recruited independent prescribing visitors to competencies that were based on the competencies for the visitors of our 16 professions.

WHAT…

What were the key outcomes of the amended approval process?

We reviewed 100 prescribing programmes at the assessment days in November 2013.

Visitors were able to request further documentation if they were not satisfied that a standard was met following their review of the documentation. Visitors could also recommend a full approval visit if there were issues remaining following their assessment of a programme. 62 per cent of the programmes assessed met the standards for education providers without the need for additional documentation, as demonstrated in the graph below. This outcome contrasts with the full approval process, where only three per cent of programmes visited in 2012/13 were approved following our first assessment.

So why was this?


There are a number of reasons:
  • Education providers were not fundamentally altering their existing prescribing provision to incorporate independent prescribing.
  • All of the education providers that engaged with this process ran existing HCPC approved SP programmes, and many ran IP programmes for nurses and pharmacists.  
  • The education providers were already familiar with our standards and processes.
Programmes required to submit further documentation were able to evidence how they met our standards, and all 100 prescribing programmes were approved by February 2014. None of the programmes required a follow up approval visit. Therefore, we have granted open-ended approval to these programmes and it will remain in place, subject to meeting our ongoing monitoring requirements.

The outcome of approving these programmes is that individuals from the relevant professions can have their registration record annotated as an independent prescriber, once they complete the relevant training. To date, we have updated the records of 150 registrants with the independent prescribing annotation. 

17 February 2015

Preventing small problems from becoming big problems in health and care

I recently attended the 26th conference of the US Institute of Health Improvement, and had the privilege of hearing Don Berwick and Atul Gawande amongst many others sharing their reflections on the changing landscape of health and care. I was struck by the strong focus on looking for new ways to reduce staff burnout and to invest more in the human aspects of care. Having strong and resilient relationships at work was seen as key to providing sustainable care. Kindness and compassion were just as important to good care as technical skills and knowledge. Addressing these aspects of care, both for service users, patients and for professionals, was given great emphasis. Gerald Hickson spoke about the "power of an honest conversation" as an important part of this process.

Our work on professionalism reflects this pursuit of greater awareness and understanding of the interpersonal aspects of care. I am very pleased that our latest research in this area continues this exploration, and reflects the mood and direction of thinking in a wider arena. Preventing small problems becoming big problems in health and care explores the reasons behind incremental disengagement, where challenging circumstances appear to lead to concerns about practise, and eventually to a complaint. Patients and service users in the study recognised the pressures and challenges of delivering high quality care, and the need to ensure professionals were supported to do their jobs well.  They said they wanted to be seen by professionals who were compassionate, communicative, and consistent in the care they provided.

Feedback from professionals in the study highlight the links between poor supervisory structures, lack of peer support, professional isolation and disengagement from practise. Disengagement was characterised as a symptom of underlying, often longstanding issues in the workplace which could be addressed and might be resolved before complaints arose. Not rocket science to anyone working in health and care services, but nevertheless important to the debate about what needs to change.

I was struck by words from Atul Gawande who spoke about ways in which services and professionals must evolve in response to the changing needs and expectations of society. A strong advocate for team based care, and the need to break down hierarchies amongst professionals.

Gawande suggested that "The relationship between clinicians and institutions has been like a tenant and landlord relationship. Clinicians expected to be left alone by their landlords to do what they did. But now, it has changed. Thinking about what happens in hospitals and clinics, and allowing others in, has become crucial."

This notion of "allowing others in" is enormously complex. At one end of the spectrum, this means allowing reflection and self awareness to generate those honest conversations with trusted colleagues at an early stage, as a means of addressing problems early on. At the other end of the spectrum, it can mean investigation by a regulator. Between the two ends lie conversations and interventions by managers, educators, and professional associations. My hope is that our work with Zubin Austin, Carole Chistensen-Moore and Joan Walsh will help to generate more activities at the reflective end of the spectrum, and reduce the activities at the regulatory end. It is in everyone's interest to prevent harm, to reduce complaints, and to see more emphasis on support, kindness and compassion in health and care.

Anna van der Gaag