Equality and inclusivity in private practice

Sara Conroy explains how the new HCPC standards on equality, diversity and inclusion affect private practitioners

Sara Conroy CSP professional adviser
Sara Conroy CSP professional adviser

The new HCPC standards of proficiency, which came into play on 1 September, appear to have caused some concern within private practice, especially around standard 5 which addresses equality, diversity, and inclusion. We have had several queries from members highlighting the difficulties facing sole practitioners. 

Understanding equality legislation is pertinent to anyone in any business area. You must be aware of it and act within the law. As a private practitioner you can decide which referrals you accept and which you do not, subject to equality law. In other words, you cannot discriminate against someone due to their protected characteristics.

The use of interpreters in private practice has been a hot topic.

Speaking a different language is not a protected characteristic and is not subject to equality law.

And while the NHS must provide interpreters sole practitioners are not obliged to. Should a patient seek to enter your service and they require an interpreter you can ask them to bring their own along. They are paying for your service as a physiotherapist and should they require an additional service, it is up to them to provide it. 

Some physiotherapists have used online translation services – but this is personal choice.

Should a deaf or disabled patient book into your clinic, equality legislation is such that you would be obliged to make reasonable adjustments. Reasonable does not mean you would have to arrange a sign language interpreter or make costly alterations to your clinic space, which would leave your out of pocket. The citizens advice guidance on this is really clear. 

The UK is a culturally diverse country, and we must all strive to be inclusive and address any personal biases. This is simply what standard 5 addresses, and it is not one that private practitioners need to fear. However, if you are unsure you can contact our enquiries team at: enquiries@csp.org.uk.


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