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HCPC Chief Executive Calls for a Recalibration of Healthcare Professional Regulation

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The chief executive of the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC), John Barwick, has today told health leaders that forthcoming reforms to the regulation of health and care professionals are an opportunity to determine ‘how the regulatory system can embrace innovation and foster collaboration.’

On the day that the Health and Care Bill has been introduced in the Queen’s Speech, Mr Barwick told the Westminster Health Forum that ‘by learning the lessons of the past year and baking them into regulation going forward, we can address structural issues that have held us back for decades.

‘We need to ensure that regulators, and others in the healthcare system, collaborate much more, share resources and act as one, not only in the name of efficiency but of better quality care.’

Mr Barwick explained that for the 287,000 health and care professionals the HCPC regulates – from paramedics to podiatrists, occupational therapists to operating department practitioners, and many others – Covid has rapidly transformed their work to a new level of ‘business as usual.’ However current legislation stifles further agility and innovation.

‘The ability to act swiftly and innovate should not be confined to emergency situations. Enabling innovation, making full use of digital technology, and providing flexibility for registrants must be core principles for us as regulators at all times.

‘But we must also be more ambitious than that. We need to recalibrate professional regulation so that it focuses above all on outcomes, on protecting the public rather than simply protecting titles.’ Mr Barwick added.

He set out three key elements essential to this recalibration:

  • Greater collaboration among professional regulators, and between regulators and the rest of the healthcare system, to reduce the siloes that exist.
  • Recognition of the benefits of the multi-profession model of regulation and a commitment to build on it. The multi-profession model is effective and proven in building common standards and focusing on outcome measures to support improvements across professions, that are increasingly interconnected.
  • Efficiency improvements in the regulatory landscape, including the sharing of a range of functions among regulators to improve performance, to enhance shared learning and reduce costs.

Mr Barwick concluded by saying that ‘in turning these principles into practical measures, we must ensure we are at all times guided by the best interests of those who matter most: the public who use and rely on our healthcare system.’

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