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Advice line: HCPC and non-practising physiotherapists

No longer working with patients? You still need HCPC registration, says Pip White.

The use of the title ‘physiotherapist’ is protected, which means that only those registered with the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) can use it. This gives the public a measure of confidence that those practising in the physiotherapy profession are safe and adequately trained.
 
The HCPC gives clear guidance that practising your profession using a protected title applies to far wider settings than just clinical roles. It means undertaking any activity where you directly draw on your professional knowledge and skills in any position. Roles where physios are managing, guiding or influencing the activity of other members of the profession, students, or others fall within the definition of ‘practising your profession’.
 
It has always been accepted that physiotherapy managers, educators, researchers, and policy advisers are as equally ‘physiotherapists’ as clinical practitioners, but with expanding horizons on the impact of the role of physiotherapy on the population in general, there is now a need to accept that the role of protection of title is far wider than just protecting ‘healthcare’ contexts.
 
Physiotherapists have a growing voice working in public health roles, social care settings, and national advisory and leadership roles in policy, commissioning and quality. These roles are not ‘clinical’ or even directly ‘healthcare’. However, where they use your knowledge of the role of physiotherapy in influencing human movement performance and function at any level, including improving the health and wellbeing of populations in general, even before illness or disability occurs, then you are still practising your profession and so must be HCPC registered.
 
Health and wellbeing priorities are evolving rapidly at both population and policy levels. Physiotherapists who are leading the way in new contexts should not be shy of promoting their expertise. We must remember that many of these new roles require HCPC registration and we cannot promote what physiotherapy has to offer to the public without it. Don’t see these roles as ‘leaving the profession’; rather see them as ‘taking the profession with you’.
 
  • Pip White is a CSP professional adviser
 

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