As Health and Care Professions Council (“HCPC”) registrants will be aware, the HCPC have revised their ‘Standards of Conduct, Performance and Ethics’ (“Standards”) and the revised Standards will come into effect on 1 September 2024. This follows on from the HCPC’s recent revision of the ‘Standards of Proficiency’ which took effect on 1 September 2023.
Whilst the HCPC has scheduled upcoming webinars to provide registrants and external stakeholders with information regarding the forthcoming changes to the Standards, the main thrust of the revisions, not including slight word amendments, are as follows:
1. Equality, Diversity and Inclusion
- A new standard has been introduced (Standard 1.5) requiring registrants to ‘treat people fairly and be aware of the potential impact their personal values, biases and beliefs’ may have on colleagues and service users.
- Registrants will also be required to ensure that their personal values, biases and beliefs do not lead them to discriminate against others or detrimentally impact the services they provide (Standard 1.6).
- Registrants will be required to raise concerns about colleagues if they treat people unfairly or their values, biases or beliefs have led them to discriminate against others or detrimentally affect the care they provide (Standard 1.7).
- Standards 1.8-1.12 will explicitly require registrants to consider the trust and power they hold on or over individuals in the social and personal settings, set and maintain professional boundaries, use appropriate methods of communication, ensure personal relationships do not impact professional decisions, and not pursue personal, sexual, emotional or financial relationships with service users, carers or colleagues.
2. Communication with Colleagues, Service Users and Carers
- Registrants will be required to responsibly use all forms of communication when communicating with service users and their carers (Standard 2.5).
- Standard 2.8 will require registrants to treat their colleagues in a professional manner and show them respect and consideration.
- Standard 2.9 will require registrants to responsibly use all forms of communication with colleagues and other healthcare professionals including social media and social networking sites (“Social Media”).
- Registrants will be required to continue using Social Media responsibly and ensure the information they share is accurate and in accordance with their duty to promote public health (Standard 2.11). In addition, professional boundaries should be maintained and the privacy of service users and carers protected when using Social Media (Standard 2.12).
3. Duty of Candour
- Registrants will be explicitly required to raise concerns regarding colleagues if they witness bullying, harassment or intimidation of a service user, their carer or a colleague in accordance with the relevant procedures (Standard 7.5).
- Standard 8.1 has been widened and will require registrants to alert their employer of what has gone wrong (and follow the relevant internal procedures) inform the service user and/or where appropriate their carer or lead clinician, provide a detailed explanation of what has gone wrong, and the likely impact, and take the necessary action to correct the mistake, where possible and explain this to the service user and/or their carer as and where appropriate.
- Standard 8.2 will require the registrant to apologise to a service user and/or their carer when something has gone wrong.
4. Upskilling and Training Responsibilities
- Registrants will be required to undertake additional training to update their knowledge, skill and experience should they wish to widen their scope of practice (Standard 3.2).
- When registrants are referring a service user to an appropriate practitioner, the registrant must ensure the practitioner ‘holds the appropriate knowledge, skills and experience to meet the needs of the service user safely and effectively’ (Standard 3.3).
5. Managing Existing Health Conditions and Disabilities in the Workplace
- New Standard 6.3 will require registrants to take responsibility for assessing whether changes to their physical or mental health are adversely impacting their ability to practise safely and effectively. This standard also states that a registrant should ask a healthcare professional to make such an assessment where they are uncertain of their own ability to do so.
- Meanwhile, Standard 6.4 has been reworded to stipulate that adjustments must be made where a registrant’s adverse health is detrimentally impacting their ability to safely practise and where it is not feasible to make these adjustments, the registrant must stop practising.
As registrants will note from the above, there are no ‘new’ requirements per se but rather clarification and a more detailed re-wording of some of the existing standards “to make sure they are relevant to current practice, and can be clearly understood by those who use them”. This is perhaps, unsurprising, given the existing standards came into effect on 26 January 2016. This clarification does, however, explicitly inform registrants of the standards of conduct, performance and ethics required of them when practising, and in their personal life, and against which their conduct/performance will be held accountable should Fitness to Practise concern(s) be raised against them post 1 September 2024.