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HPC launches consultation on student fitness to practise and registration

HPC launches consultation on the most effective way of assuring student fitness to practise, including the registration of social work students in England

 

The Health Professions Council (HPC) has today launched a consultation seeking the views of stakeholders on the most effective way of assuring the fitness to practise of students, including the voluntary registration of social work students in England.

The Health and Social Care Bill 2011, currently before parliament, would allow the HPC to set up voluntary registers of students studying on programmes which lead to registration. This is subject to undertaking an assessment of the likely impact of setting up the register and holding a public consultation.

The HPC does not register students and does not have any existing powers to do so. Therefore, it registers individuals following successful completion on a HPC-approved programme. The HPCs standards of conduct performance and ethics describe public and professional expectations of behaviour and apply to both registrants and to students. The HPC also publishes guidance on conduct and ethics specifically for students further building on these standards.

In 2012, the General Social Care Council (GSCC) is due to be abolished and the regulation of social workers in England transferred to the HPC. As social work students in England are currently registered with the GSCC, and the HPC, subject to parliamentary approval, will soon have discretionary powers to establish voluntary registers of students, it is seeking the views of stakeholders on the most effective way of assuring the fitness to practise of students, to inform its approach in this area going forward.

As a multi-professional regulator the HPC is not only looking at this issue for social work students in England, but also for students from the 15 professions it currently regulates across the UK.

The three main options being considered as part of the consultation are:

  • Maintaining the HPCs current approach to student registration.
  • Maintaining a voluntary register of social work students in England.
  • Establishing a voluntary register of students for some or all of the existing HPC regulated professions.

HPCs Director of Policy and Standards, Michael Guthrie, said:

We are keen to hear the views of stakeholders on the potential risks posed by students to service users, the effectiveness and benefits of different approaches to assuring student fitness to practise, as well as opinions on the cost implications and how the different approaches to managing student fitness to practise might affect different groups.

We want to ensure that any approach we put in place is proportionate and effective in managing risk. This consultation is about gathering evidence, so that we can make an informed decision about the best approach to adopt going forward.

The consultation will run from 1 November 2011 2 March 2012.

The full document is available on-line and a copy can be downloaded from the HPC website.

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