When I look back at the start of this year, like many others, I could not have imagined we would be where we are today. At the HCPC, we had big changes planned for 2020, that would help us better protect patients and service users and support our Registrants. Our new Year in Highlights report shows the work done by the HCPC from 2019 – 2020 and the significant progress we have made despite the many challenges faced. This work, above all else, has set us in good stead to bolster the NHS and other health and care services, support our Registrants and ultimately help keep patients and service users safe during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Perhaps the most significant project undertaken in 2019 – 2020 was the successful transfer of 90,000 social workers to Social Work England’s register, completed in December 2019. We then began the implementation of our Change Plan, to aid with our organisational transformation. The Change Plan has been a critical stepping stone to the development of our new Corporate Strategy, which will set our course for the next five years. The plan ensured that we focused on our wider strategic goals, throughout 2020, as we dealt with the immediate implications of the pandemic. We have been consulting on our draft Corporate Strategy, over the last few months, speaking to Registrants, our partners and the public, and there will be further announcements on that shortly.
Our Fitness to Practise (FtP) Improvement Programme continues at pace to ensure we meet all of the Professional Standards Authority’s standards of good regulation, and this includes the delivery of a new Case Management System in April next year. Using data analysis, we are moving towards a prevention-focused regulatory approach, addressing the cause of FtP issues and preventing harm from occurring. This will ultimately reduce the number of hearings, which we know can place an emotional strain on Registrants and members of the public.
We continue to strive to create an inclusive and caring environment for our employees, Registrants and service users. To this end, in 2019-2020 we strengthened our Equality, Diversity and Inclusion action plan and initiatives, and began the development of a Registrant wellbeing strategy, including dedicated wellbeing representatives. These will continue to be developed, and we hope to reflect on their outcomes in the next Year In Highlights report.
Collecting trend data and listening to the experiences and insight of service users, our Registrants and our partners, is crucial for helping us develop as an organisation. In 2019 – 2020, we began to develop a new data and insights hub, to ensure we are using all the information we gather effectively and better to inform our working processes and decision making. This will help evolve a HCPC which works for everyone, improving stakeholder experience and delivering a more empathetic FTP process.
March 2020 saw the HCPC establish our temporary register. This enabled over 25,000 former Registrants and final year students to be available to assist the NHS and care for patients and service users, at the height of the pandemic. We did this rapidly, during the first weeks of the pandemic, and the contribution it made was recognised by the Secretary of State Matt Hancock, who sent a letter personally thanking the HCPC for our response.
Last but not least, it would be remiss of me not to mention the permanent appointment of John Barwick as our Chief Executive Officer, in March 2020. In the face of the pandemic, John’s leadership has kept the development of our Corporate Strategy on track, and ensured that the voices of our Registrants, patients and service users have been heard within governments across the four nations.
As we move into 2021, lots of our strategic projects will come to a close, signalling the beginning of a new phase for HCPC when we focus on embedding the changes we have made. This will include the impletation of our new Corporate Strategy, improving Fitness to Practise and progressing our work on prevention focused, intelligence-led regulation.
We will be a regulator which truly listens and understands the demands of patients and service users, our Registrants and employees. As Chair, it is exciting to see our hard work and determination beginning to pay off, and I look forward to this continuing in 2021.