On 1 August 2012, the Health Professions Council changed their name to the Health and Care Professions Council. This change has been brought about by the provisions of the Health and Social Care Act 2012 which will see the HCPC take on the regulation of social workers from the General Social Care Council (GSCC). The HCPC is now responsible for the regulation of 16 independent health and care professions. Mark Seale, the HCPC’s Chief Executive commenting on the regulation of social workers, said:

“The HCPC has more enhanced and widespread powers than the GSCC. The HCPC can investigate concerns raised about social workers in England, and, in the most serious cases, can suspend a social worker in England, whilst an investigation is carried out. The HCPC can also consider more grounds for complaints which will be new for social workers, including lack of competence and have a wider range of sanctions, including suspensions orders which are reviewed by a panel. HCPC can also impose conditions of practice orders and have powers to demand information from employers and others if needed for a hearing, something that was not available under GSCC.”

Physiotherapists and Podiatrists to gain prescribing powers On 24 July 2012, the Department of Health announced that medicines legislation will be amended to allow independent prescribing responsibilities to be extended to appropriately trained chiropodists/podiatrists and physiotherapists. The amendments to the legislation will be laid in the Autumn. It is expected that the first practitioners will be eligible to enroll in approved independent prescribing education programmes in Autumn 2013. Practitioners will need to pass the course in order to become annotated as independent prescribers on the HCPC’s register.