Over the last year, the HCPC has taken important steps towards fulfilling our organisational aim: protecting the public through strong, evidence-based and compassionate regulation.
We know, however, that there is a lot more to do, and we have robust plans in place to deliver for our registrants and other stakeholders.
Reflecting on our achievements in the past year, I am pleased with the impact of the changes we have started to make across Registration, Fitness to Practise (FTP) and Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI).
We have sought to improve the outcomes and experiences of our registrants and their service users, by taking actions such as:
- Improving our response time for registration enquiries.
We understand that nothing is more important to the professionals we work with than ensuring they are able to get on the Register and begin practising. We have focused on improving our response times for queries to our registrations department. We experienced an extremely busy period last summer, and our response time for emails has halved since then.
- Progressing FTP cases to provide more clarity and certainty for affected registrants and other parties.
Our transition to frontloading FTP cases is reducing the time from an Investigating Committee Panel decision to final hearing. We are also consistently meeting our target for holding an interim order panel within three weeks of information coming to our attention that one may be required.
- Helping to identify and redress inequalities.
We have improved the volume and quality of EDI data we hold and further embedded EDI as a key aspect of professional practice. We have promoted and shared our data, through profession-specific factsheets and our external EDI forum. We are currently revising our Standards to require registrants to actively challenge barriers to inclusion for their service users. This includes adding new, specific EDI obligations to our Standards of Proficiency, which professionals must meet in order to become registered.
- Developing our professional liaison service.
The service aims to support the development of cultures, working environments and practices that enable our registrants to embed and achieve high professional standards. The service hosts workshops to support international applicants, and to help both students and registrants better understand the HCPC’s Standards.
While we have made progress, we know there is a lot more to be done. I am working with my team to drive further progress across these key areas.
To ensure that we can do this, we will need to maintain a healthy financial position and ensure we can continue to invest. This will be crucial to implementing the additional improvements we have planned, such as making registration applications, renewals and readmissions easier to complete. International applicants can apply using an online form, and we are now rolling this out for UK applicants.
This will also facilitate further improvements to our FTP process, planned for this year. These include being more compassionate in our communication with registrants, complainants and witnesses and introducing a free, independent, and confidential helpline to alleviate anxieties registrants may have about the process.
We operate under legislation that is long since out of date; recent steps forward have happened despite that legislation, not because of it. We need a modern framework that allows us to further improve the speed and efficiency of our work. The government recognises this and I am hopeful that they will bring in the changes we need.
Our improvements in 2021 have set us firmly on the right track, but we must invest in continual improvements and upgrades, in order to keep patients safe and reach our goal of being a high performing, adaptable and caring regulator. We will continue our progress throughout 2022 and beyond.
Chief Executive and Registrar of the HCPC