The Chartered Society of Physiotherapy The Chartered Society of Physiotherapy

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Regulatory requirements

If you practise as a physiotherapist in the UK, you are required by law to be registered with the Health & Care Professions Council (HCPC), the UK’s regulator for health and care professionals.

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The HCPC’s role is to protect the public. It does this by setting standards for registration as a health and care professional and keeping a register of individuals who meet these standards.

HCPC standards relate to registrants’ education, professional knowledge and skills, behaviour (conduct, performance and ethics) and health.

The HCPC register is open to the public so that individuals and employers can check whether a physiotherapist (or other health and care professional) holds registration.

HCPC registration and standards

To gain HCPC registration, physiotherapists are required to demonstrate that they meet the HCPC’s Standards of Proficiency for the profession. For physiotherapists who qualify in the UK, this is measured through their successful completion of a qualifying (pre-registration) physiotherapy education programme approved by the HCPC.

The HCPC’s criteria for programme approval, including the fulfilment of the Standards of Proficiency, are set within its Standards of Education and Training. (All qualifying programmes listed on the CSP’s website meet the HCPC’s requirements, as well as the CSP’s own accreditation criteria.)

Physiotherapist who qualified overseas are required to apply for registration with the HCPC and to demonstrate their fulfilment of the HCPC Standards of Proficiency.

To remain on the HCPC register, physiotherapists have to continue to meet the regulator’s standards, going through a re-registration process every two years.

Within re-registration, the HCPC Standards for Continuing Professional Development (CPD) are implemented. In this way, physiotherapists are required to demonstrate that they are undertaking activity to ensure that they remain up-to-date within their scope of practice.

The importance of keeping your registration up to date

It is essential, as a registrant, that you keep the HCPC informed of any change of address. Just as you would inform your bank or gas and electricity supplier if you move house, make sure you also contact the HCPC.

Falling off the register affects your livelihood. It also affects service delivery to patients. If you have changed address, you can update your details online.

Protected titles

The titles ‘physiotherapist’ and ‘physical therapist’ are protected by law. They may only be used by individuals who are on the HCPC register. Anyone using one of these titles who is not on the HCPC register may be subject to prosecution.

Further information on protecting the public from unregistered practitioners can be found via the Professional Standards Authority (formerly the Council for Healthcare Regulatory Excellence).

Fitness to practise

‘Fitness to practise’ relates to registrants having the skills, knowledge and character to practise their profession safely and effectively. It is applied to guard against activity that could affect public protection or confidence in a profession.

If the HCPC receives a complaint against a registrant, it explores whether there is a fitness to practise case to be heard. If it deems that there is, it can enact its fitness to practise processes to explore whether the registrant’s status needs to be reviewed.

The CSP considers individual members’ status with itself based on the outcome of any HCPC case against them as registrants.

For information about CSP processes for members who do not come under HCPC registration, see Professionalism and discipline for members outside HCPC regulation.

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