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Reviewing our return to practice processes to help registrants get back to work

05 Maw 2020

Building on the findings of our research, we’ve brought stakeholders together to explore returning to practice further to inform our future practice and guidance.

The ‘Supporting people returning to practice’ event run by the HCPC and Scottish Government provided opportunity to learn from and hear different perspectives on return to practice and gather feedback on our current approach.

This built upon the findings of our jointly commissioned research, which identified the barriers and supports that exist for individuals looking to re-join the HCPC Register. Some factors negatively impacting returning to practice include lack of skills, supervision, peer and employer support, funding, and poor administrative practice, as well as aspects of professionals personal lives. However, there are some positive support systems including well-organised and resourced return to work programmes, training and mentoring schemes, and clear policies and planning.

Many of the stakeholders who attended the event reflected that returners bring ‘clinical as well as life experience’ which makes them highly effective in what they do. Each professional on our Register brings a variety of skills and knowledge to protect the public safely, including those returning to practice.

“What really struck me was the clear message of the value returners provide. However, it is clear more needs to be done to challenge myths about returners and seek out those who have left the profession and encourage them to return.” Olivia Bird, Policy Manager, HCPC

Health Education and NHS Education Scotland shared the work they are doing to encourage professionals to return to practice. This includes schemes that provide financial support and online resources, encourage former and current returners to support one another, and encourage consistency across local approaches.

Some real challenges for returners were also identified, for example; employer HR processes such as delays with honorary contracts, some taking up to 4-6 months; access to placements; and lack of understanding of our guidance and financial cost.


Lived experience

We invited two registrants to share their first-hand experience of returning to work or managing return to work to help stakeholders reflect on what worked and didn’t.

We heard from Juliet, a former physio who left the profession to join the police. After retiring from the police, she wanted to go back into physiotherapy. She successfully returned through our process, by doing 60 days of updating – made up of 30 days private study, 10 days formal study and 20 days supervised practice.

Whilst successful, she still faced challenges and noted finding it very difficult to find supervised practice. She also initially found our forms and process quite complex. She found supervision very valuable, as well as resources from her professional body, HEE and guidance given by HCPC on the phone.

She also found it hard to know where returners fit within the workplace and wants to see a list of supportive trusts, more funding, clearer guidance, regional support and specific roles for returners.

You may also like to hear from Mary, who shares her experience of returning to practice in a more rural setting in Scotland.

Shaping our guidance

Through the research and discussions with stakeholders, we are now clearer on how we can improve our guidance. We are considering:

  • Making our processes clearer and more accessible, such as simplifying the guidance and forms.
  • Working more collaboratively with professional bodies and organisations such as Health Education England and NHS Education Scotland.
  • Increasing the requirements for returning to practice in specific areas where stakeholders were concerned about risk (for example, where returners have an annotation on our register, such as prescribers).
  • Improving understanding of the link between our requirements and the Standards of Proficiency.

Next steps

We will be progressing our review of the returning to practice process throughout the year.

In the meantime, if you have any positive or negative experiences of our returning to practice process that you would like to share with us, please get in touch with the Policy and Standards team at

Tudalen wedi'i diweddaru ymlaen: 20/02/2020