Physios must report threats to patient safety, says HCPC

Physiotherapists have a new professional duty to report concerns about patient safety and be open and honest if something goes wrong with the treatment they provide.


It is now a requirement to put patient safety before any other loyalties

New standards

  • Conduct and ethics

Revised standards of conduct, performance and ethics, published by the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) after a lengthy consultation, came into effect on 26 January.

It is now a formal requirement for physiotherapists to put the safety and wellbeing of their patients before any professional or other loyalties.

The regulator expect its registrants across 16 health and social care professions to report their concerns about the safety of service users, and to encourage others to do the same.

The HCPC has introduced the duty on openness in response to recommendations in the Francis report on Mid-Staffordshire.

This duty of openness is backed up by requirements to apologise, put matters right and make sure those affected get a full and prompt explanation.

If patients or their families want to raise concerns about the care they receive, physios are now duty bound to help them.

CSP professional adviser Pip White said: ‘These are good developments because they reflect the move in healthcare to take responsibility.’

A culture of openness

Asked by Frontline about support for health professionals who report wrong-doing or exercise openness, HCPC chair Elaine Buckley said: ‘If you are in a position of authority there is a responsibility to engender a culture to allow that to happen.

‘These standards need the support and interpretation of professional bodies and employers. We need to engage with all the stakeholders to actually get them to understand their role in making this happen.’

Marc Seale, chief executive of the HCPC, added that it was just as important for the Care Quality Commission and other watchdogs to ensure a culture of openness, as it was for registrants to consider how they behave.

The CSP already supports members through its workplace stewards, Ms White emphasised.

‘And we give members advice on topics such as whistleblowing and the duty to report through information papers on our website,’ she said.

During the consultation process use of social media emerged a tricky area for some registrants.

So another significant change is a new standard saying that physios must use social media ‘appropriately and responsibly’.

The HCPC expects to publish detailed guidance this summer.

The new standards are available below. Physios can also expect to receive a paper copy from the HCPC.

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