The Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) have released their Fitness to practise annual report 2017, highlighting the work undertaken in the past year.
The report covers the period from 1 April 2016 to 31 March 2017, where the number of individuals on the HCPC Register increased by 2.5 per cent. Despite these increases, the proportion of registrants affected still remains low, with only 0.64 per cent being subject to a new fitness to practise (FTP) concern.
Increased number of concerns
The number of concerns we received increased by 6.2 per cent to 2,259. In the same period 1,854 cases were closed as they did not meet our Standard of Acceptance – an increase of 12 per cent. The increase in the number of concerns being closed at the initial stage of the FTP process has led to a decrease in the number of cases being considered by an Investigating Committee Panel.
Public largest complainant group
Members of the public continue to be the largest complainant group, making up 41 per cent of the total number of concerns raised this year. Employers continue to be the second largest source of concerns, contributing 26 per cent of the concerns raised.
More hearings activity
We have seen a significant increase in hearings activity this year, with 39 per cent more cases concluded at final hearing than in the previous year. There has also been a 31 per cent increase in the number of hearing days. This increase in part reflects our continuing focus on seeking to improve the time it takes to conclude cases, including older cases.
Enhancing independence between investigation and adjudication
We have also sought to enhance the independence of the adjudication process with the establishment of the Health and Care Professions Tribunal Service (HCPTS). The HCPTS reinforces the separation of the investigation and adjudication of cases, and aims to provide reassurance to those involved that decisions are made by independent panels that are arm’s length from those investigating the cases.
Providing greater specialisation in case management
This year we have changed the way the FTP directorate is organised to provide greater specialisation in the case management process. This included the establishment of a dedicated team responsible for the initial receipt and risk assessment of concerns, and a dedicated team for the preparation of cases for a final hearing.
In the coming year the HCPC will explore the use and value of case examiners or screeners in the early stages of our FTP process, and the use of electronic bundles.
We will also consider the findings from research the HCPC has commissioned into understanding the prevalence of FTP cases about paramedics and social workers in England, and will explore ways to take forward any recommendations or emerging actions from the report. One focus will be analysing why there is such a high rate of self-referrals amongst paramedics, and how this can be addressed.
The HCPC will also closely consider our recent Professional Standards Authority performance review, and identifying any further improvement activities that may be required.
Read the full FTP annual report and key information document here.