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COVID-19 and your scope of practice

This information aims to support registrants in understanding how to apply the following Standards of conduct, performance and ethics during the COVID-19 pandemic.

3.1 You must keep within your scope of practice by only practising in the areas you have appropriate knowledge, skills and experience for.

3.2 You must refer a service user to another practitioner if the care, treatment or other services they need are beyond your scope of practice.

3.3 You must keep your knowledge and skills up to date and relevant to your scope of practice through continuing professional development.

3.4 You must keep up to date with and follow the law, our guidance and other requirements relevant to your practice.

3.5 You must ask for feedback and use it to improve your practice.

Changing roles in the current climate

The unique challenges that COVID-19 presents means many of you are likely working, or have been asked to work, in new roles. These might be outside of your traditional scope of practice. Due to pressure on services, you may be asked to perform these roles with limited training or supervision.

To be able to respond to COVID-19, registrants must be willing to adapt their practice to the demands of the current climate. However, it is important this does not come at the cost of practicing safely and effectively.

Identifying your current scope of practice

We define your scope of practice as the limit of your knowledge, skills and experience. You must work within your scope of practice at all times.

Determining what is and is not part of your scope of practice will be for you to decide using your professional judgement. Our standards of proficiency may inform your scope of practice, as well as your job description, employer policies and any guidance issued by your professional body.

Even if a role is outside of what might be traditionally expected for your profession, this doesn’t mean you cannot do this if you have the required knowledge, skills and experience. What is key is ensuring that you can perform a role safely and effectively.

Temporary registrants

If you are currently on the COVID-19 temporary register, then your scope of practice must be in some way connected to COVID-19.

This does not necessarily need to be directly related to COVID-19 (for example treating service users diagnosed or with symptoms of COVID-19).

It could be indirect, such as by back-filling other roles in the health and care sector to fill workforce gaps due to COVID-19.

Further information about this is set out on our advice for temporary registrants page.

Getting appropriate training and support

If you move into a new area or role, it is your employer’s responsibility to provide you with appropriate training and / or support (such as supervision) to ensure you are still able to practice safely and effectively.

The level of knowledge, skills and experience required for each role will be informed by your employer and professional body’s advice. Local guidance and policies may also set out training requirements for certain roles.

Due to COVID-19, it may not be possible to get the level of training and support you would typically expect. Pressures on services might mean regular supervision is not available and training is more condensed than usual. It is still important that you receive as much training and support as practicable in the circumstances to ensure you are able to practice safely and effectively.

All our standards need to be read in the round. How to meet them, and what is and is not appropriate, will depend on the full circumstances of an individual’s practice. We recognise that working in a pandemic may give rise to particular challenges that are uncommon in your everyday practice.

We would still expect you to use your professional judgement to assess what is safe and effective practice in the context in which you are working during the pandemic.

Raising concerns

If you have concerns about the level of training or support you are receiving, you should raise this immediately with your employer. If they do not address your concerns, you should seek advice from your professional body or union as soon as you can.

We recognise that in the current circumstances it will be particularly challenging, but we would encourage, wherever possible, that registrants are given as much support and training as practicable in the circumstances to ensure they are still able to practise safely and effectively.

If matters escalate, you can also speak to Protect (formerly Public Concern at Work), the whistleblowing charity that provides advice to individuals with whistleblowing concerns at work.

We recommend you keep a record of any engagement you have with others during the decision making process and the reasons for any decision(s) you make. Should any concerns be raised about your practice, we will take account of:

  • the circumstances and context you were working in;
  • any steps you took to raise your concerns; and
  • relevant resource, guidelines and protocols in place at the time.

This position is set out in the joint statement from Chief Executives of statutory regulators of health and care professionals.

Additional guidance

There is plenty of guidance available to help you determine what is and is not in your scope of practice.

  • We have issued further information on our website, such as our blog on thinking through your scope of practice.
  • If you are a member, your professional body will be able to support you in establishing what forms part of your profession’s scope of practice and what sort of training you might need to get.
  • Your employer will also have its own policies in place about what sort of training is required for particular roles.
  • Your trade union can support you if you need to raise a concern about your employer.
Page updated on: 09/04/2020