Professions we regulate
Chiropodists / Podiatrists
Hearing aid dispensers
Operating department practitioners
Prosthetists / orthotists
Social workers in England
Speech and language therapists
How we approve and monitor programmes
Education and Training Committee
“I am delighted to present the Health and Care Professions Council’s Education annual report for the 2016–17 academic year. It is a chance to reflect on another year of progress, approving a diverse range of programmes delivered by a broad range of providers.”
An environment of change
An environment of change has characterised our work in recent years, and 2016–17 was no different. In this report we focus on three key changes that impacted on our work: changes to funding and workforce planning, meeting the service user and carer standard, and new professions training in prescribing. These are part of a wider of spectrum of change happening across the education sector.
Broadly, this led to a 42 per cent rise in the number of new programmes we approved and more providers made significant changes to existing programmes. These changes affected the way we assessed programmes, the type of conditions recommended by visitors and the timescales they took to complete assessments. A key trend we have seen is a growing number of programmes delivered at a higher level than the threshold we require.
Reviewing our work
Working with stakeholders
In 2017–18, we will continue to approve an even wider range of programmes, with organisations increasingly working in partnership to deliver them. We expect to see more varied training routes and new providers for Allied Health Professions following the reform to NHS bursaries, new degree apprenticeship programmes and more social work teaching partnerships.
We will start assessing new programmes against the revised standards of education and training. This includes the new standards on using social media, having consent, being open and honest when things go wrong and reporting concerns. As is the case with any new standards we introduce, we can expect to see a high number of conditions on these areas and more cases where we need further evidence as providers adapt to the change. We will provide plenty of support to providers to help them in demonstrating the new standards.
On 21 March 2018 the Council decided that the threshold level of entry to the Register for paramedics should be raised to Degree level. This decision will have a significant impact on our work as providers delivering programmes below this level will need to change to meet the new requirement, or close. During 2017–18 we would focus on communicating any change to paramedic providers.
We also predict a rise in the number of new programmes we approve for entitlements that extend professionals’ scope of practice. In particular we expect to see new programmes for chiropodists / podiatrists to train in podiatric surgery and orthoptists to use exemptions under prescription medicines legislation, following changes that were introduced in 2016–17.
Our work to improve the way we communicate with learners will also continue, with refreshed information on our website, a new leaflet for education providers to give learners in their welcome packs and a webcast, and we will begin research into stakeholders’ perceptions and experiences of our education regulatory processes.
A word from our Committee chair
“In 2017–18 our focus will be to review how we assess programmes and consider how effective our methods are. This will be against the backdrop of an evolving educational landscape, so our challenge will be to understand how these changes will impact the work we do.”
Professor Stephen Wordsworth
Deputy Dean in the Faculty of Health, Educational and Social Care
Anglia Ruskin University
The year in numbers
programmes through annual monitoring
We carried out
annual monitoring assessment days
Education and Training Committee meetings
lay committee members
The register of approved programmes
Changes to funding and workforce planning
Over the last few years, changes in the education sector, including new sources of funding and workforce planning arrangements, have prompted education providers to offer a more diverse range of programmes.
These changes contributed to a small increase in the number of new programmes we approved and significant changes to existing ones.
Although the number of major changes we approved was consistent with the previous year, the complex nature of the changes is demonstrated by a 7 per cent rise in those that we needed to assess in more detail through an approval visit. Up 9 per cent from 2013–14.
Programmes we approved and how we assessed them
Major changes and how we assessed them
The shift towards higher-level qualifications
Allied Health Professions (AHPs) are the third largest workforce in the NHS and we regulate 13 out of the 14 professions. In August 2017, the Department of Health and Social Care announced that nine of these professions would no longer receive NHS bursaries, with learners needing to access the student loan system instead. Increased competition meant that we saw a broader choice of training routes in these professions, particularly at higher levels.
For example, in 2016–17 we approved our first integrated Masters and Doctorate level programme for physiotherapists and most of the changes made by Bachelor Degree-level speech and language therapy programmes involved reducing the length of the programme from four years to three. This reflects an attempt to broaden the choice for learners.
Despite making up just seven per cent of the all approved programmes, paramedic programmes accounted for 19 per cent of major changes that we assessed through another visit – the largest of any profession. Education providers made significant changes to increase student cohort sizes and intakes, employing more experienced clinical and academic staff. This impacted our standards for programme management, resourcing and practice-based learning. We have seen a 17 per cent rise in conditions related to practice placements since 2013–14, which demonstrates the challenge faced by providers to offer appropriate placement opportunities to rising numbers of learners.
Paramedic programmes also made changes in response to the Paramedic Evidence Based Education Project (PEEP)’s recommendation that the threshold level of qualification should be raised to Degree. Eighty-six per cent of new paramedic programmes we approved were Bachelor Degree level, compared to 33 per cent on 2015–16. And all operating department practitioners programmes have been delivered at Bachelor Degree level since 2015–16, following new curriculum guidance introduced in 2011 by the College of Operating Department Practitioners that recommended the change.
We also saw a significant change in the level of qualifications we approved for social workers in England. Continued funding for postgraduate student bursaries and fast-track routes, such as Step Up to Social Work, has led to a rise in new postgraduate Diploma and Masters level programmes for social workers in England. More providers also integrated teaching partnerships, working more closely with employers to deliver their training.
New programmes approved above the threshold level of qualification
Conditions on approval
Reaching a decision
More complicated changes take longer to assess, so we saw a twelve per cent drop in major changes meeting our target timeframe of three months for visitors to recommend a decision, although this is still consistent with our average over five years.
This is against a backdrop of improvement across the other assessments, where we saw an increase of three per cent following approval visits and two per cent for annual monitoring audits, compared to the previous year.
Decisions recommended within three months
Meeting the service user and carer standard
During the year we assessed the last wave of programmes against our new standard, requiring education providers to involve service users and carers in their programme, through annual monitoring. We have also been assessing new programmes against the standard since 2014. One of our most important policy changes in recent years, the standard embeds this vital perspective into the process of developing and delivering programmes.
We saw a marked improvement in providers’ understanding of how to meet the standard, following a series of workshops we ran and online guidance we published. Fewer programmes needed to meet conditions or provide further evidence before we could approve them.
Assessing the standard: outcomes
Case study: involving service users and carers
BSc (Hons) Occupational Therapy
Sheffield Hallam University
We want to provide learners with a narrative of service user and carers’ experience living with their condition. We do this by involving them to deliver the programme and develop our method to assess and admit learners.
We recruit service users and carers through our clinical networks, voluntary organisations and through contact with practicing occupational therapists; employing them through our ‘Casual Worker’s scheme’. We established a forum for them to voice any concerns about their role or training needs with the university and each other.
Service users and carers are ‘co-producers’ of many of our modules, alongside lecturers. They help us to deliver sessions that focus on the impact of their injury on their lives. Before the session, the two parties meet to discuss how they will be involved and the learning outcome for learners, such as ‘being able to explain the effect occupation has on health, wellbeing and function’.
The lecturer briefs the service user or carer before the session, providing support throughout, and debriefs them after the session.
Over the last three years we have worked with service users and carers to audit the admissions process, making improvements to the written assessment for applicants. They are responsible for marking these independently from course tutors or clinician assessors.
New professions train in prescribing
Legislation introduced in October 2016 enables dietitians and therapeutic radiographers to train in prescribing. We asked education providers to submit adjustments as a major change, for us to assess and approve before they could start. Those that did respond met our standards without any difficulty.
However, providers did not take up the opportunity as we expected. Compared to chiropodist / podiatrists and physiotherapists in 2013–14, there were far fewer new programmes or major changes from these providers.
Our standards are robust and we assess programmes against them thoroughly, but on reflection it would have been proportionate to assess the changes through our routine monitoring.
By streamlining this process in future, we hope to encourage more providers to act on similar legislative changes.
Prescribing programmes making changes following new legislation
Reviewing how we work
We are committed to assessing programmes thoroughly and reaching decisions as quickly as possible. By reviewing the way we do this, we can strengthen the parts that work well and change those that are not. 2016–17 saw some big changes in this area, as Paula Lescott, Head of Systems and Quality, explains.
You introduced a new quality assurance framework in 2017. Can you explain what this is and its purpose?
Have you made any significant changes to the way you assess programmes?
Does the Education and Training Committee review your work?
The ETC carefully considered all these issues and approved a plan to move forward.
Feedback from educators, learners and visitors is crucial understanding how the Department can improve. How can people provide feedback?
Feedback from our stakeholders is incredibly important to us. The best way to tell us what you think is by responding to our biennial survey, which appeared in your inboxes in February 2018. Education providers can also provide at, or after, an approval visit or during monitoring.
Visitors can do the same at their training days. Any of our stakeholders can contact us with feedback at any time at firstname.lastname@example.org
Connecting with our stakeholders
Shaping the standards together
Our standards and guidance are used in various settings: by education providers designing programmes, visitors carrying out assessments, professional bodies who pass them on to their members and learners who are preparing to join the Register. When reviewing these important documents, it is vital that we work closely with our stakeholders to make sure they are fit for purpose.
In June 2017 we published the revised standards of education and training. The standards now require programmes to offer interprofessional education, involve learners in designing, delivering and reviewing programmes and support learners to raise a concern. They also make a stronger link to the standards of conduct, performance and ethics and include broader, more inclusive and up-to date-terminology which is in line with that used in the sector.
We started work to review the standards of education and training in 2014, asking for input and feedback from a range of stakeholders through a professional liaison group (PLG) and consultation. The PLG included service users, newly-qualified professionals, and leaders and decision-makers representing professional bodies, education providers and education sector organisations such as the Council of Deans of Health. Members discussed values in education, the changing nature of practice placements and research we commissioned about preparing learners for practice, to inform the changes they made. We gathered feedback from a wider group of education providers, registrants, service users, carers, visitors, learners and members of the public on the proposed changes through the public consultation in 2016.
Council approved the revised standards in March 2017. Once published, we promoted them to our stakeholders through a range of communication channels including social media, our blog and the Education Update newsletter, and ran a series of well-attended seminars that explored the changes in more detail. We received excellent feedback from those that attended.
“Standards development is an important regulatory function affecting the higher education sector. We welcome ongoing engagement with the HCPC and their approach to be open, transparent and collaborative with our sector.”
Dr Katerina Kolyva, Executive Director
Council of Deans of Health
of organisations were education providers
Measuring our success
Improved materials for learners
It is important that we connect with learners at this early stage, before they join our Register. Over the year we improved our support for learners, including materials to support their understanding of the standards of conduct, performance and ethics (SCPEs) which we revised and published in January 2017.
This resource was released with the revised SCPEs, bringing them to life through real-life scenarios that professionals might face in their day-to-day work. It focuses on four new standards about using social media, having consent, being open when things go wrong and reporting concerns.
“The animations are a short, punchy and engaging way for learners to begin thinking about conduct and ethics in practice-based learning environments. They’re a must-watch for learners, registered professionals and educators alike.”
Dr Jonathan Isserow
Head of Partnerships and Convenor
MA Art Psychotherapy, University of Roehampton
In March 2017 we held a webcast to discuss how the SCPEs apply to learners and the process to join the Register. Viewers also submitted questions which we answered live. The webcast had the highest number of views of any of our webcasts to date.
“Really useful information on registering, where to find documents, what to send and how much. Practical and useful advice that we are not told about in lectures.”
people watched live
viewed it on YouTube
New release of the myHCPC app
We released a new version of our myHCPC app in March 2017, with features that make it easy for learners to learn about how they are regulated. It includes a new easy-to-navigate home screen, bookmarking tool, and instant access to all of sets of standards and guidance.
“It is a brilliant resource! Guidance is readily available without having to search online. I often refer to the standards when doing my assignments and I like keeping up to date with current news, which is all there in the app.”
“The app is very useable and useful. Information is accessible, with good graphics and illustrations.”
John Donaghy, Senior Lecturer at Anglia Ruskin University