Ash James, CSP director of practice and development: The recent issues following the latest renewal cycle with the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) caused understandable turmoil and distress for many members.
I want to take an opportunity to update where we are and what we will do in the future to ensure we don’t end up in the same place.
For the latest HCPC renewal cycle ending in April 2022 the CSP were alerted to the fact that 5,311 physiotherapists had dropped off the HCPC register. Equating to around nine per cent of the registered physiotherapy population.
At each renewal cycle as a profession we do have a drop of around 1,500 to 2,000 physiotherapists, but 5,311 was a significantly higher number than usual.
After receiving these numbers we began to receive emails and telephone calls to our CSP enquiry team and the Professional Advice Service from distressed members, informing us they had been removed from the HCPC register without knowledge of why.
Within a day we very quickly formed a core team to respond to the issue and dedicated resource to ensure we could help members as efficiently as possible. This team was made up of our fantastic enquiries team and professional advisers who were able to keep us updated on the stories coming in from members.
I set up meetings with the senior leadership team at the HCPC to relay these messages and stories to ensure their response was as fast and as fair as it could be.
As many of you may have seen we used all of our communication channels and used both written word and videos to ensure all members were aware of the issues and that they needed to check the HCPC register.
What we heard from members as being the main issues:
- emails from the HCPC were not received at all
- emails and reminders from the HCPC had gone into junk folders
- the HCPC were difficult to contact via the telephone or email
- members who had been off work through illness or on maternity leave had also not received communications from the HCPC
These issues had significant consequences for our members and ultimately patients.
Common themes were:
- NHS members had to work as support workers (resulting in loss of income while being downgraded to band four) or NHS workers were sent home on unpaid leave.
- Private/independent practitioners could not work resulting in loss of income, they had to cancel their clinics and workshops planned etc.
- Those re-registering in the month of May did not have the option of paying by direct debit and had to pay their whole fee upfront, adding to potential financial burden.
All of this was communicated to the HCPC who, with our lobbying, dedicated seven day a week resource to reinstating members to the register, and provided a shortened version of the form for four weeks to make this easier for members.
Since the end of April the number of physiotherapists has steadily risen back onto the HCPC register:
- May 2022: 56,553
- June 2022: 59,756
- July 2022: 60,153
I have regular meetings with the HCPC and will work with them to ensure that in the next renewal cycle this does not happen again. The HCPC will have communications leading up to the next cycle to remind registrants and the CSP will do the same through all of our communication channels to members. With this in mind it would be remiss of me not to remind everyone to ensure all of your details are up to date, both with the CSP and the HCPC.
I now have regular meetings now set up with the Professional Standards Authority who are the organisation that regulate the HCPC. Their recent report on the HCPC (which does not include information regarding the latest renewal cycle, which will be in their next report) can be found here.
I understand the distress and complications this may have caused some members.
I assure you that the team here at the CSP will continue to work hard to help the HCPC reach our membership and work with it to ensure we don’t end up in the same position, whilst at the same time hold it to account when it doesn’t meet the mark for our members.
Number of subscribers: 3