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Fitness to practise

Registrants must have the skills, knowledge and character to practise their profession safely and effectively

However fitness to practise is not just about professional performance. It also includes actions by a registrant which may affect public protection or public confidence in the profession. These actions may not necessarily be directly related to professional practice.

Purpose of the fitness to practise process

Our fitness to practise process is designed to protect the public from those who are not fit to practise. 

If a registrant’s fitness to practise is impaired (in other words, negatively affected), this means they are unable to practise safely and effectively. This may mean they should not practise at all. It could also mean they should be restricted in what they are allowed to do. We will take action to ensure this.

Sometimes registrants make mistakes they are unlikely to repeat. Or they may behave unprofessionally as a one-off instance. In these circumstances their overall fitness to practise is unlikely to be impaired. Our processes do not mean we will pursue every isolated mistake or instance of minor unprofessional conduct. However if a professional falls below our standards we will take action.

The types of cases we can consider are those that question whether a registered professional’s fitness to practise is “impaired” on one of the following “grounds”:

  • Misconduct – behaviour that falls short of what can reasonably be expected of a professional.
  • Lack of competence – lack of knowledge, skill and judgement, usually repeated and over a period of time.
  • Conviction or caution – for a criminal offence in the UK (or in another country if the offence would be a crime if committed here).
  • Physical or mental health – usually a long-term, untreated or unacknowledged condition.
  • A decision made by another health or social care regulator. 

You can find more information about these grounds our case studies page.

We consider every case individually. Below are some of the types of issues we are able to investigate:

  • Dishonesty, fraud or abuse of trust;
  • Exploitation of a vulnerable person;
  • Failure to act in the best interests of service users 
  • Serious breaches of a service user’s confidentiality or data protection requirements;
  • Committing reckless or deliberately harmful acts;
  • Serious or repeated mistakes in service user care;
  • Where a registrant’s performance in their role has harmed service users or put them at risk of harm;
  • Breach of a professional relationship with a service user;
  • Violence, sexual misconduct or indecent behaviour;
  • A caution or conviction for a criminal offence.
  • Health conditions that are not being managed and may affect the safety of service users, including substance abuse or misuse;
  • An adverse finding by another regulatory body;
  • Fraudulent or incorrect entry onto the HCPC Register, or
  • Other equally serious activities which affect public confidence in the profession.

If you are unhappy with the care or service you have received from one of our registered professionals, it is usually best to tell the professional or other management staff at their place of work. This will give them the opportunity to put things right and is generally the most effective method of resolving a complaint. 

Concerns about education providers

The HCPC Education Department considers concerns about education providers including education programmes. If you would like to raise a concern or learn more about this area, please go to the education part of our website.

Page updated on: 29/06/2018
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