Since we last met for Council there have been significant changes in the healthcare world, including a new of Secretary of State.
While it remains to be seen how Mr. Javid will handle his new role, we know that he is an experienced and successful politician. The Health and Care Bill is proceeding on the timeline as planned, as it was laid in Parliament this week in the House of Commons.
This will, of course, be a significant piece of legislation affecting all our registrants and service users. Our policy team is currently working on parliamentary engagement, to ensure we grasp this opportunity to make healthcare regulation work better for all.
Fitness to Practise improvement
Our FtP improvement programme continues apace, with a further four projects having been completed and moved into the benefits realisation stage, bringing the total number of completed projects to 10.
The new case management system went live at the start of June 2021, thanks to the hard work of our IT and tech team. We are now in a period of adapting to the system and embedding the new ways of working that it will enable, which will improve efficiency and oversight.
I am pleased to say the team is on track to deliver all projects in the FtP Improvement Programme by the end of July. After this, the focus will shift towards measuring and tracking the benefits of each project, making sure that these are sustained. Registrants will gradually begin to see the advantages of an FtP system designed to focus on prevention, to reduce the number of hearings, which can be taxing and time consuming for all involved.
Key initiatives approved
There were several key initiatives approved at Council this month. The first was the revised guidance on health and character. The consultation on this revealed overwhelming support for the changes proposed by HCPC. The majority of respondents agreed that the proposed guidance gave clear explanations of when applicants or registrants need to declare issues with their health or character.
We also approved the revised threshold level for Operating Department Practitioners. The move to increase the first of the standards of education and training (SET1) for ODPs from Diploma of Higher Education to Degree-level supports our strategic priority to promote high quality professional practice and prevent harm to service users and patients.
In May, it was our first year’s evaluation of the Professional liaison service. This outreach service aims, through education and influence, to empower employers, registrants and other stakeholders to create working environments and practices that achieve high professional standards. This service is a key component of HCPC’s prevention aims, set out in our Corporate Strategy. We are committed to continue this work, scale up the service and focus on prevention of problems ‘upstream’.
The Council and Senior leadership team continues to shape our thinking on regulatory reform. Since the last Council, we have responded to the government’s consultation on regulating healthcare professionals and our response can be seen online. We have also drafted a briefing for MPs on the Health and Care Bill, to put across HCPC’s reflection on regulatory reform.
By learning the lessons of the past year and implementing them, we have a real opportunity to address issues that have constrained us for many years. We need to ensure that regulators, and others in the healthcare system, collaborate more effectively, share resources and act as one, not only in the name of efficiency, but of better quality care.