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Our approach to the removal of registrants from the COVID-19 temporary register

Introduction

On 25 March 2020 the Coronavirus Act 2020 came into force in the UK. It sets out emergency legislative powers to address the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

The Act gives new emergency powers to the Registrar of the HCPC temporarily to register a person as a member, or a group of persons as members, of a relevant profession[1], if the Secretary of State advises the HCPC that an emergency has occurred, is occurring or is about to occur[2]. The Registrar can register a person that the Registrar considers to be fit, proper and suitably experienced to be registered as a member of a relevant profession with regard to the emergency[3].

The Registrar has also been given the powers to remove an individual from the temporary register. Under the Coronavirus Act 2020 the HCPC’s normal registration requirements and fitness to practise processes do not apply to individuals on the temporary register[4].

The Coronavirus Act 2020 sets out that:

  • The Registrar must revoke any temporary registration where the Secretary of State advises the Registrar that the circumstances that led the Secretary of State to declare an emergency no longer exist[5]; and
  • The Registrar may at any time revoke a temporary registration for any other reason, including where the Registrar suspects that an individual’s fitness to practise may be impaired[6].

This statement sets out the approach we will take to removing an individual from the temporary register.

Revoking registration when the emergency no longer exists

As soon as the HCPC has been notified by the Secretary of State that the emergency that triggered use of the powers conferred under the Coronavirus Act 2020 no longer exists, the HCPC must revoke the registration of every individual on the temporary register. Individuals who have been temporarily registered in a relevant profession will no longer be able to practise in that profession, or use any of the protected titles of those professions.

If individuals who have been registered temporarily wish to join the register permanently they will need to go through the normal application process.

Removal following receipt of a concern

The Registrar may decide to remove an individual from the temporary register where the Registrar suspects that an individual’s fitness to practise may be impaired.

Our over-arching objective is to protect, promote and maintain the health and safety of the public, and maintain and uphold proper professional standards for the professions we regulate[7]. Our approach to removing registrants from the temporary register must balance the need to support the health and care workforce during this emergency period, whilst ensuring we minimise any potential risks to the safety of the public.

If we receive a concern about a registrant on the temporary register we will first consider whether that concern is about something that may impair the registrant’s fitness to practise during the COVID-19 emergency. We will use the five statutory grounds of impairment set out in the Health Professions Order 2001 (the Order) to assess whether a concern is a potential fitness to practise matter[8]. These are:

  • Misconduct;
  • Lack of competence;
  • Conviction or caution for a criminal offence;
  • Physical or mental health;
  • A determination by another health or social care regulatory or licensing body.

The fact that a concern appears to relate to one of the statutory grounds of impairment will not of itself necessarily result in an individual’s removal from the temporary register.

Removal for other reasons

Aside from fitness to practise concerns, there may be other reasons for the Registrar to remove an individual from the temporary register, in accordance with the provisions of the Coronavirus Act 2020.

These instances will be considered on a case by case basis, but other reasons for removal might include:

  • Where an individual asks to be removed from the temporary register;
  • Where an individual was included on the temporary register in error, for example where they did not meet the qualifying criteria for inclusion on the temporary register;
  • Where we receive information that was not available when the original decision to register temporarily was made, which had we known about it at that time would have caused us to conclude that the individual was not fit, proper or suitably experienced to be temporarily registered as a member of the profession in question.

 Assessing concerns or other information received

We may be able to reach a decision on the basis of the information provided to us by the person or organisation who contacted us and/or raised a concern. In some cases, it may be necessary to carry out enquiries to gather information to enable the Registrar to make their decision, for example to confirm the identity of the temporary registrant or clarify the facts of the case. 

Where a registrant has provided us with information relating to the case we will take this into account in our assessment of the matter. We will also take into account any relevant contextual issues, including equality and diversity issues.

We will not in any circumstances carry out a full fitness to practise investigation into the concerns we have received.

Where an individual asks to be removed from the temporary register it will be sufficient that they have requested this in writing[9]. Where we receive such a request we will confirm with the individual that they wish to be removed being doing so.

Making the removal decision

After we have assessed the concern or other information received, the Registrar will be asked to make their decision.

In some cases, the Registrar may be able to make a decision immediately on the information we receive. For instance, because it is clear there are no concerns about the individual’s temporary registration and we do not need to take action.

There may also be cases where the concerns raised are so serious that the Registrar needs to take immediate action to remove someone from the temporary register.

Fitness to practise concerns

The Registrar will consider all relevant factors, and on the information available decide whether to remove an individual from the temporary register because the Registrar suspects that their fitness to practise may be impaired. This is a low threshold. In making this decision the Registrar may consider:

  • Whether the concern is serious enough to suggest that the individual may not be fit to practise during the COVID-19 emergency;
  • The extent to which the concern has already been addressed and there remains a serious risk to the public;
  • The extent to which there is a risk of harm to public trust and confidence in the professions.

If the Registrar considers that an individual’s fitness to practise may be impaired, they will go on to consider what action to take, if any.

Decision outcomes

The Registrar may:

  • Remove an individual from the temporary register;
  • Take no action.

When deciding whether removal is the appropriate outcome, the Registrar will take into account the risk identified, as well as the COVID-19 emergency situation and whether that risk can be safely managed. At all times the Registrar will have regard to our overarching objective to protect the public from the risk of harm.

Where the Registrar is not satisfied that an individual on the temporary register can practise safely or effectively during the COVID-19 emergency, or is otherwise fit, proper and suitably experienced to remain on the temporary register, the Registrar will revoke the individual’s temporary registration with immediate effect.

The Registrar also has the power to take no action and allow an individual to remain on the temporary register. The Registrar may do so where they are satisfied that the individual can practice safely and effectively during the COVID-19 emergency.

As the Registrar is acting in an emergency there is no formal process to remove an individual from the temporary register. The registrant will not have the opportunity to make formal representations about their removal or attend a hearing.

Notification of the decision

Once the decision has been made we will notify the registrant and their employer, where relevant, of the decision. We will also notify the person who raised the concern, where they are not the registrant’s employer.

Where the decision relates to a student on the temporary register we will also notify their Higher Education Institute.

We will not publish our decisions publicly. However, we may share information about an individual’s removal from the temporary register with another organisation, such as a health or social care provider, where it is in the public interest to do so. We will comply with all relevant legal requirements (including those arising under the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the Data Protection Act 2018) when considering any request to share information about a decision to revoke temporary registration.

Re-joining the temporary register following removal by the Registrar

There is no right to appeal or review the Registrar’s decision to remove an individual from the temporary register.

However, there may be circumstances where it is appropriate for someone to re-join the temporary register after they have been removed by the Registrar. These are likely to be exceptional circumstances and will usually only be where:

  • The individual was removed from the temporary register at their own request, and no concerns were raised about their practice or the original decision to register them. In these circumstances the individual will be allowed to return to the temporary register if they wish to at a later date, provided they are still fit, proper and suitably experienced;
  • It is identified there was a mistake of fact relevant to the Registrar’s decision to remove someone from the temporary register, for example where there was a mistake of identity;
  • There has been a material change in circumstances which means the individual can now be considered fit, proper and suitably experienced, and can be readmitted to the temporary register.

Applications for permanent registration

If individuals on the temporary register wish to apply for admission to the HCPC register permanently in future, they will need to satisfy our full registration requirements. To make sure that applicants are able to practise safely and effectively within their profession, we must check the health and character of everyone who applies to join our register. This is the case even where an individual has previously been on the temporary register and/or has contributed to the health and care professions workforce during the COVID-19 pandemic.

In assessing whether an individual is capable of safe and effective practice, it is important that we are able to take into account any information relevant to an individual’s application to join the register. This may include concerns we received about someone whilst they were on the temporary register. We will therefore keep a record of that information. We will take account of the challenging circumstances temporary registrants may have been working in, where relevant to a concern, when assessing an application for admission or readmission to the permanent register.

[1] For these purposes the relevant professions are the 15 professions regulated by the HCPC.

[2] Paragraph 2(2) Schedule 1 of the Coronavirus Act 2020 adds a new Article 9A to the Health Professions Order 2001, providing powers for temporary registration in emergencies following the loss of human life or human illness. The Act allows individuals, or people in a specified group of persons, to be admitted to the existing HCPC register temporarily. For clarity, we will refer to those admitted to the register temporarily as being on a temporary register.

[3] Article 9A (2)(a).

[4] Article 9A (10)

[5] Article 9A (7)(a)

[6] Article (A (7)(b)

[7] Article 3(4) and (4A) of the Health Professions Order (2001) states that the HCPC’s over-arching objective  is to protect the public, and sets out how this objective should be pursued. 

[8] Article 22(1)(a) of the Order sets out the statutory grounds of impairment as listed above.

[9] A person may request at any time in writing to registration@hcpc-uk.org that their temporary registration be revoked.

 

Version 1.0. 21 May 2020

Tudalen wedi'i diweddaru ymlaen: 22/05/2020
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