As the renewal window for HCPC registration fast approaches, their deputy chief executive Andrew Smith offers an overview of the process and provides valuable advice to help make sure your HCPC registration renewal goes smoothly
What is the HCPC?
The Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) is the regulator for the 71,316 registered physiotherapists in the UK. By law, anyone who wishes to practise in the UK using the titles of physiotherapist or physical therapist must be registered with the HCPC.
Registration with the HCPC assures the public that those who are on the register have completed an HCPC-approved training programme and meet the standards set by the HCPC for safe and effective practise.
What’s the role of the HCPC, and where does the CSP fit in?
At its core, the HCPC exists to protect the public.
We do this by:
- setting standards for professionals’ education and training and practice.
- approving education programmes which professionals must complete to join the HCPC’s register.
- keeping the register of professionals who meet the HCPC’s standards.
- taking action if a professional on our register does not meet the HCPC’s standards (through the fitness to practise process).
- stopping unregistered practitioners from using protected professional titles.
The CSP, like other professional bodies, do invaluable work in providing profession-specific guidance and promoting lifelong learning and training. The CSP, and professional bodies like it, are the voice of their members, and play a vital role in feeding back the experiences of physios to us so we understand the issues and challenges your profession is facing.
I’m pleased we have developed a good and constructive relationship with the CSP – this benefits physios and your patients as we are all working towards the same goal of public protection.
On 1 February physiotherapists enter their renewal window. What changes have been introduced in the last two years, and what does the renewal process look like in 2024?
We want to ensure that the renewal process in 2024 is a smooth and successful one.
Since early 2022, we have improved our registration renewal process, making it more user friendly. This has included changes to our website and our online registration renewal portal – making it easier to securely activate your HCPC account and access it using a mobile or tablet device. We’ve also updated our guidance explaining what you have to do to successfully renew your HCPC registration.
We will also be working closely with the CSP, before, during and after the registration renewal period.
This includes sharing information about how and when to renew your HCPC registration.
We will share and discuss renewal data with the CSP during the registration renewal period, including tracking demographic information to help us see if any trends are emerging including where groups with certain characteristics, such as age or ethnicity, are not renewing their registration. This helps informs how we communicate to ensure maximum awareness of the need to renew your registration with the HCPC.
When and how will physiotherapists be informed that they have been selected for the CPD audit process?
Continuing professional development (CPD) is the way in which registrants continue to learn and develop throughout their careers so they keep their skills and knowledge up to date and are able to practise safely and effectively.
During a renewal window, 2.5 per cent of physiotherapists will be randomly selected to submit their CPD profile. As this selection is random, somebody can be chosen more than once over the course of their career.
Those chosen will be notified that they have been selected for audit by email by 14 February. It will also be clearly visible in their online account that they have been selected.
It is a misconception that people who delay their renewal have a smaller chance of being called for audit. This is categorically not the case, and we would urge people not to delay renewing their registration on that basis.
What advice would you give to physiotherapists who are selected for the CPD audit?
Don’t panic! Firstly, we would urge all physiotherapists to not worry or panic; our audit process is not designed to trip anybody up.
The majority of our registrants pass their CPD audit, demonstrating that their CPD is adequate and up to date; however, we know many people still worry about whether the CPD they are doing is sufficient.
Our approach to CPD is flexible, taking into account different working roles, learning needs and variation in access to certain types of CPD.
Record your CPD – it’s about quality, not quantity.
CPD is not about the number of hours you’ve done – it’s about doing a range of useful things to stay up to date and improve your practice.
There is no set format for recording your CPD, although some professional bodies and employers do have recommendations and tools you can use. You might choose to keep hard copies of documents in a folder, or you might choose to keep a record electronically.
If you are selected for the CPD audit, we won’t ask for everything you’ve ever recorded. We only request evidence for the last two years in the form of a 500 word practice history summary, overviewing your current role and the type of work you do, a dated list of the activities from the past two years, a statement to illustrate how these have supported you to meet the HCPC standards for CPD along with pieces of evidence, such as service user testimonials or course certificates, showing that you have completed the activities.
You can find lots of advice and some examples of how physiotherapists have successfully tackled this on the HCPC website.
Think of CPD as wider than formal courses
Many people tend to focus on formal courses, but CPD is any activity from which you learn and develop – not just course attendance.
In fact, the more variety you have, the better, as we’re looking for evidence of a range of activities.
This can be a chat with your team, or reflection on an individual experience with a patient or service user, mentoring sessions, for example.
We have four general categories for what we see as CPD. These are:
- Work-based learning. For example, reflecting on experiences at work, considering feedback from service users or being a member of a committee.
- Professional activity. For example, being involved in a professional body or giving a presentation at a conference.
- Formal education. For example, going on formal courses or carrying out research.
- Self-directed learning. For example, reading articles or books.
It’s important to remember that you are not alone in this. We know that physiotherapists on our register are doing CPD all the time, for example you are doing CPD now by reading this magazine.
Whilst we have clear rules against plagiarism, this does not mean that you can’t also ask a colleague for help and we would encourage you to discuss your CPD audit if you feel you need that support.
Please seek advice if you need to, including from us directly.
Top tips from the HCPC to ensure renewing your registration goes smoothly
It is essential to ensure your HCPC account has up-to-date contact details (find guidance about using and updating your HCPC account here. Emails and text messages are now our main communication routes with the people on our register. It is therefore important that we have your correct mobile phone number and email address – please use an email address that you check regularly.
Set re-occurring reminders in your personal calendar. Your profession renews at a set time every two years, so be sure to create a reminder of when this happens. For physiotherapists this is 1 February until 30 April.
You don’t need to wait for the HCPC reminder notification to renew your registration. The messages we send are reminders and provide guidance on how to renew your HCPC registration, but you can access your online account and renew your HCPC registration at any time between 1 February and 30 April without any reference to our emails or text notifications.
So, if you had the email but it is buried in your inbox somewhere, you don’t need to search for it, simply log into your account and renew.
Use your networks. When you renew your HCPC registration we also encourage you to remind your physio friends and colleagues to renew their registration.
If you have an issue with the system, please let us at the HCPC know, either by contacting us directly or through the CSP. This will allow us to support you and investigate any issues you are having quickly.
What resources are available to help physiotherapists prepare for re-registration and the CPD audit?
Andrew Smith, HCPC deputy chief executive, says: Renewal – the HCPC website has a page dedicated to registration renewals which sets out clearly a step-by-step renewal guide and a guide to knowing when the process is complete.
CPD and the audit process – the HCPC has written resources, recorded workshops and videos featuring registrants to explain more about what we mean by CPD to help support this to be an ongoing process in your practice. This section also includes guides as to what you will need to include if you are chosen for audit and information for employers.
I know that the CSP have lots of great resources too, and we very much encourage you to take advantage of these.
Make sure your contact details are up to date
Ashley James, the CSP’s director of practice and development, says it’s vital that members ensure that the CSP and the HCPC have their correct contact details.
During the 2022 re-registration period some 5,000 CSP members were temporarily unable to practice as they had not been informed that it was time for them to re-register. The HCPC sent reminder information via email only, so if members had not provided an up-to-date email address or the address had been wrongly transcribed, they would not have been informed.
At one NHS trust in Liverpool 26 CSP members had to go home on the same day as they were de-registered, which Ashley says was ‘catastrophic for patients at a time when there was already a significant waiting list due to the backlog of Covid.
‘There were significant issues and negative consequences for members particularly those in private practice who were unable to see booked in patients,’ he explains.
‘Lots of members didn’t have their emails up to date, or a wrong email address had been recorded so they weren’t reminded. This was a particular issue in private practice where lots of members work on their own, they don’t have peers around them to remind them or let them know. The fact that there was only digital communication from the HCPC didn’t help the situation.
‘It doesn’t take away from the fact that it is an individual’s responsibility to make sure that they are re-registered. It’s definitely the responsibility of the HCPC to remind people and ensure that there is a smooth process in place as possible, making sure all digital and non-digital means of communication are explored, but it is also the responsibility of the registrant to ensure they are up to date.
‘The majority were re-registered within two weeks and everybody who should have remained registered were returned within a month. For some people it was a significant gap in their working lives.
We agreed as part of the solution that the public liability insurance provider would provide cover for them that period even if they were de-registered without knowing it and they could provide evidence to demonstrate the fact.
‘CSP members did complain to the HCPC – but there was no monetary compensation; people weren’t paid for losses. ‘New processes have been established so that if a digital route is tried – if an email is sent from the HCPC reminding them to re-register and it isn’t delivered then it does trigger a letter being sent to the individual – however if it delivers and it’s the wrong email address then there is a risk that members won’t receive it. The most important thing that members can do in January is to make sure that all their details are fully up to date with HCPC and the CSP – email addresses, postal addresses telephone numbers – all relevant means of communication are up to date.
All 70,000 HCPC registrants that are physios must re-register and 2.5 per cent of those will be called to provide evidence of their CPD over the last two years.
There are plenty of resources at the HCPC and the CSP where people can go to get the best information about what to do.
‘The key point is to make sure people’s information; email, postal address and telephone number is up to date. Joint communications between the CSP and HCPC are well planned to make sure members know the processes that are in place now and what they need to do. The CSP now has a more embedded relationship with the HCPC so we can work much more effectively.’
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