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When and how to tell us about changes in your health

This page is for existing registrants and provides information about when and how to tell us about changes in your health

Visiting European health professionals on the temporary and occasional register should telephone our Fitness to Practise department for advice about changes in their health. Telephone: 0300 500 4472.

If you have a realistic, informed idea of the limits of your safe practice and can manage your health appropriately within this, your registration is unlikely to be affected.

Many people living with a health condition can train, register with us and practise safely and effectively throughout their career. You may not need to interact with us any more than any other registrant.

However, training and practising with a health condition can also raise unique challenges. In some cases, it may involve making difficult decisions around whether you can continue to practise.

Health and your registration

  • Standard 6.3 of our Standards of conduct, performance and ethics says:

    You must make changes to how you practise, or stop practising, if your physical or mental health may affect your performance or judgement, or put any others at risk for any reason.

  • You should tell us about your health condition if it affects your ability to practise safely and effectively

    You should also tell us if you are not sure whether your health condition affects (or could affect) your ability to practise, or what steps you need to take to stay safe and effective.

    You do not need to tell us if your health condition does not affect your practice or you are sure you can adapt, limit, or stop your practice as needed to remain safe and effective. In other words, you do not need to tell us if you can meet standard 6.3.

    This applies for conditions that affect your physical health and / or mental health.


    Using your judgement and seeking advice

    You should use your professional judgement to make an informed and reasoned decision about whether your health condition affects your ability to practise safely and effectively.

    We recommend you speak with your GP or other relevant medical or healthcare practitioner, professional body, union and / or employer for advice. Read ‘sources of advice and support’ for more information about organisations that can support you.

    If you are not sure whether you need to tell us about a change in your health, or if your condition could affect your ability to make this judgement, then you should tell us anyway and provide as much information as you can


  • Make a health declaration when you renew

    When you renew your registration, you will be asked to sign a declaration to confirm that you do not have a health condition that would affect your ability to practise your profession safely and effectively.

    It’s important that you fill in the health declaration honestly and let us know if your circumstances have changed.

    If you have adapted, limited or stopped practising during your registration because or your health condition, but have concerns about practising safely and effectively in the future, you should declare this when you renew.

    If you are not sure whether you should make a declaration when you renew, speak to our Registration team for advice. Telephone: 0300 500 4472.


    The role of self-referral

    If your condition affects your ability to practise and you cannot adapt, limit, or stop your practice as needed to remain safe and effective, you should not wait to tell us.

    Telling us about changes outside of your renewal period is called a self-referral. This can be done at any time. You can make a self-referral here - go to step five to download the form.

    If you are not sure whether you should make a self-referral, speak to our Fitness to Practise team for advice. Freephone 0800 328 4218.


    Taking a break

    You can take a break of up to two years and remain on the Register. However in order to renew your registration, you need to have practised your profession at some point during the two year registration period.

    If you do not plan or are unable to practise in your profession for more than two years, you can ask us to remove your name from the Register and apply for readmission when you wish to practise again. This is a personal decision which you should make after first familiarising yourself with our readmission and returners to practice processes.

    You will need to declare any health conditions in line with our Guidance on health and character when you apply for readmission.

    Read more about leaving the register here.

  • Information to support your declaration or self-referral may come from a variety of sources

    This may include you, your employer and your healthcare team.

    We cannot compel you to give us information that you do not choose to share voluntarily. However, sharing relevant information with us will help us to complete a full and accurate assessment of your health and reach an outcome more effectively and efficiently.

    Examples of evidence and information that would assist us include:

    • Documents from your employer that relate to your health;
    • Occupational health assessments or other documents;
    • A letter or reference from your GP or other relevant medical or healthcare practitioner; and
    • A letter or reference from your hospital consultant or other specialist.

    We respect your right to privacy and want to take a proportionate approach to evaluating your health status. We only need information relevant to the condition that you declare to us, how it is managed and how it may impact your practise. This will help us to decide whether the health condition you report to us affects your ability to practise safely and effectively. Read more about what information we need when we investigate health concerns here.

    You can read our data protection policy and privacy notice on our website, here. The self-referral form also includes a notice about how we may use information that you refer to us.

  • If you tell us about a health condition when you renew your registration and it is clear that your ability to practise safely or effectively is not affected (such as taking time off work with flu or a broken leg) then our Registration team will let you know.

    However, in most cases we will refer information that you declare about a change in your health to our Fitness to Practise department.

    If you make a self-referral, this will be received directly by our Fitness to Practise department.

    Our Fitness to Practise team are best placed to consider whether you are able to practise safely and effectively. The information that you declare will be handled sensitively, confidentially and in line with our published approach to investigating health matters. Read more about how we investigate health concerns here.


    We will review your referral and decide whether we need to investigate

    We will first consider whether your referral is something we can deal with. This assessment takes place during our triage stage. We sometimes receive referrals about issues we cannot deal with. If this is the case with your referral, we will write to you to explain why.

    Where we have made a decision at the triage stage that your referral is something we can deal with, we will carry out an initial investigation to obtain the relevant information about your referral. This may involve gathering information from a number of sources.

    Once we have completed our initial investigation we will assess your referral and the information we have obtained about it, against our threshold criteria for fitness to practise investigations. This is to decide whether your referral, and the information we have gathered, amounts to an allegation that your fitness to practise may be impaired.

    If we find that your referral does meet our threshold, we will refer the matter to our Investigating Committee.

    If we consider that our threshold has not been met we will close the case and take no further action.


    What you can expect from us during an investigation

    We investigate all cases objectively and independently.

    We will treat you fairly and explain what will happen at each stage of the process.

    We assign a case manager to each case. Their role is to manage the case throughout the process and to gather relevant information. The case manager acts as a contact for everyone involved in the case and will keep you up to date with the progress of the investigation. They cannot give you legal advice but they can explain how the process works, what information we require and what panels might consider when making decisions.

    Visit our web page, 'What happens if a concern has been raised against me?' for more information about the process a case will go through and the possible outcomes.


    Keeping you informed

    We try to complete our investigations as quickly and efficiently as possible.

    We aim to:

    • Have a case considered by the Investigating Committee within eight months of receipt of a concern (if the concern meets our threshold); and
    • Hold a final hearing within nine months of the Investigating Committee’s panel decision that there is a case to answer.

    While these are our aims, the time a case takes to reach the end of the process can vary depending on how complicated the issues are. This can affect the type of investigation we need to carry out. Each stage of the process may take a shorter or longer period of time.

    Your case manager will write to you regularly to keep you informed of the progress of the case.

    For more information, take a look at our investigation process flowchart.

Health and your practice

  • ‘Safe practice’ means practice that does not put service users or you at risk

    To have a realistic, informed idea of the limits of your safe practice with your health condition requires insight and understanding.

    Having a good understanding of and insight into your health condition allows you to recognise when your performance or judgement might be affected, or when practising might place you or others at risk. When you recognise these issues, you can consider how you need to manage them. In this way, insight and understanding help you to meet standard 6.3 of our Standards of conduct, performance and ethics.

    Take the time to look after your health and wellbeing. Be informed about your health and reflect carefully on how it impacts or could impact your practise.

  • You need to take responsibility for making arrangements that allow you to practise safely

    As a person with a health condition, you know most about how your condition impacts your life and what measures you find helpful to manage this.

    Seeking help can be difficult, but is a very positive step. You have a professional responsibility to take all reasonable steps to reduce the risk of harm to service users, carers and colleagues as far as possible. Looking after your own health, with the support of others, is an important part of this process.


    Seek medical advice early

    Medical advice is fundamental to managing your health and practice effectively. Acknowledge changes in your health and seek advice at an early stage. Listen to and work closely with your healthcare team. Getting the right care and treatment as soon as possible can help you to continue practising safely.


    Talk to your employer and occupational health service

    If your health condition could impact your ability to practise safely and effectively, you should tell your employer. An employer can work with you to develop a support or action plan that will help you to continue practising safely.

    If you work independently, such as in private practice, you should think carefully about what safeguards might be necessary to protect service users and yourself. If you are not sure what steps you need to take, then you should tell us about your condition.


    Relapsing, recurrent or episodic conditions

    If your health condition is associated with a high risk of relapse or recurrence, or could otherwise cause you to become suddenly unwell, make sure that measures are in place to support you.

    Consider what support you may need while you establish whether a new treatment plan is working. Have an action plan for unexpected events and make sure colleagues know if you may need their help.


    If you are unsure, talk to us

    If you are not sure whether the adjustments you have made to your practice are sufficient to ensure you remain safe and effective, or if workforce pressures make it hard to keep to these adjustments, then you should let us know so that we can assess your circumstances.

  • We hope this page reassures you

    However, we recognise that changes in your health can be a stressful experience. Below, we explain where you can look for more information, support and advice.

    Talk to us

    Speak to our Fitness to Practise team on Freephone 0800 328 4218.

    Speak to your GP

    Your GP and healthcare team are there to support you will all aspects of your physical and mental health.

    Speak to your employer and occupational health service

    We strongly recommend that you make your employer aware of changes in your health that affect your work, so that you can access appropriate support.

    Speak to your professional body and union

    If you are a member of a professional body or union, you should contact them for advice. Access our pages about professional bodies for more information.

    Wellbeing services

    If you are struggling, don’t be afraid to tell somebody. We encourage you to talk to a friend, family member or trusted colleague.

    Samaritans are a non-religious support service there to listen to you and help you talk through your concerns, worries and troubles, whatever they may be. Call Samaritans for free and in confidence, 24 hours a day, on 116 123.

Frequently asked questions

  • No. We look at every case individually and base our decision on the particular circumstances of each case. The key factor is not that the applicant or registrant has a particular health condition or disability, but whether that health condition or disability affects their ability to practise safely and effectively.

Page updated on: 19/03/2021