Police caution for falsely using registered title

A man falsely claiming to be a registered physiotherapist has been arrested and cautioned by Essex police.

The man, who was working in Essex and using business cards with 'registered physio' printed on them, was arrested last month and accepted a police caution for fraud. The Health Professions Council said it was the first time in its history that the police had been involved in this type of case. The incident was part of a larger fraud investigation against the individual, and the HPC provided a statement to the police confirming he was not on the physiotherapy register. The HPC has not released his name and workplace, saying it was following Home Office guidelines. An HPC spokesperson said the individual could have faced criminal prosecution and a £5,000 fine if the complaint had been made directly to the regulator. She said: 'If the complaint had gone through the HPC he would have got a tougher punishment.' However, Frontline can reveal that the HPC has yet to bring a prosecution for falsely using a registered title, despite receiving 945 complaints since 2005, including 265 allegations relating to physiotherapy. HPC fitness to practice manager Eve Seall told Frontline not every case was a breach of the law, as individuals could be practising under a maiden name, their name could be incorrectly spelt, or incorrect information could have been provided. Ms Seall said enforcement was directed at 'preventing misuse of titles and encouraging ongoing compliance with the law rather than on isolated prosecution'. She said suspected offenders were first asked to explain any allegations, that 'cease and desist' notices could then be issued, and that action so far had been effective, with no 'requirement to go further'. However, the HPC said prosecutions were likely to occur in the next year, due to the high number of these complaints.
Louise Hunt

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