The Health and Care Professions Council have recently announced that they are consulting on proposed amendments to the two sets of rules that govern their registration process and their fitness to practice committees.

The main proposed changes will include additional online services and allowing a self-declaration instead of requiring a character reference.

The proposed changes to the fitness to practice rules include allowing panel chairs to deal with logistical matters without necessitating a preliminary hearing. Currently, fitness to practise panels have the power to hold preliminary hearings in private with the parties involved for the purpose of case management. The amendment will enable the panel chair alone to give directions about case management without a hearing. It is anticipated that the directions will relate to procedural matters, such as exchange of documents and use of expert witnesses.

While this proposal will make the process more efficient and cost-effective the council will need to ensure that such matters are dealt with in a consistent, fair and transparent manner. In any event the parties or chair will still be able to request a hearing for contested matters.

The HCPC advises that purpose of the consultation is to bring about changes to the rules that will improve the delivery of their service. A laudable aim, provided it’s not at the expense of fairness to the registrant. 

Responses to the consultation are due by 15 January 2016.