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APPG on Coronavirus submission: HCPC highlights lessons learned from COVID-19

13 Aug 2020

Christine Elliott

HCPC Chair of Council

Over 20 professional bodies, workers unions, charities and 900+ individuals have so far submitted evidence to the APPG on Coronavirus. The HCPC has now added its voice, submitting evidence to the cross party group about our experience and that of our registrants during the current pandemic. 

We are proud of the contribution the HCPC, and our individual registrants have made to tackling Covid-19. We have heard from a number of registrants about how they have adapted during the crisis, embracing new ways of working and even undertaking additional training so they can help front line services. Some of these stories are detailed in the Your Stories section of our website.

We also added people who left our Register in the past three years to our Covid-19 Temporary Registers, and as of 1 July, we had 21,316 former registrants and 5697 students able to aid the national response, ensure the safety of patients and service users and boost the UK’s recovery. Our priority now is to encourage those who feel able, and would like to continue practicing, to return to our permanent Register. For students who have achieved their qualifications, we encourage them to now apply for full registration.   

Central to the success of our registered professions is ensuring we take forward all that we have learnt from Covid-19, and make changes which will enable more people to register with us. We were delighted to see the support given by the Health and Social Care Secretary, Matt Hancock, to help more people become health and care professionals, and to continued professional development, something which is required of our registrants.  

Crucially, the current pandemic has highlighted the need for regulatory reform and workforce planning. These two elements are central to the evidence we have submitted to the APPG. The Covid-19 pandemic vividly illustrates the importance and value of innovation, pragmatism and decisiveness. In professional regulation, a new legislative framework is urgently needed if we are to move beyond pre-pandemic old ways. Regulation needs to be data-driven, targeted, responsive and good value. We can also streamline international processes, especially for much-needed paramedics, facilitating comparable qualifications assessments and online assessments.

It is the right time to cut red tape without lowering standards. A good candidate for reform is Fitness to Practise, where having an operating framework less prescribed in legislation should provide regulators with greater flexibility and in proportion to the actual risk. For example, certain regulators had to seek Privy Council approval for emergency rules changes to allow them to serve documents electronically. And once a Fitness to Practise complaint is initiated, some regulators are compelled to follow a time consuming, expensive and lengthy process, even if there is safe, fair and better option. Not forgetting the unnecessary distress and economic hardship sometimes imposed, even when registrants are exonerated.

Coronavirus has also highlighted gaps in the workforce, and the importance of being able to call upon previous registrants and students in times of need. More flexible regulation will allow us to easily implement temporary registers in the future, should we be faced with a similar challenge. The financial support granted to aid student recruitment and the commitment to additional advanced practitioners, will also help boost our workforce.

Finally, and most importantly, our submission to the APPG on Coronavirus pays tribute to the lives lost by HCPC registrants during this coronavirus pandemic. These individuals were hard working, committed professionals who put their service users at the heart of what they did. Our condolences and sympathies are with their families, friends and colleagues.

Page updated on: 13/08/2020
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