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HCPCSep 25, 2022

Regulator invites physiotherapists to comment on plans to raise their annual fees by 20 per cent

The Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) has admitted that hundreds of thousands of physiotherapists and other professionals will not find it ‘easy' to support draft proposals to increase their registration fees by almost £20 a year.

In a consultation exercise on the proposals that was launched last week (22 September), the HCPC argues that the hike is needed to secure its ‘financial sustainability’.

If the proposals receive the legislative green light, annual renewal fees will increase by £19.62 a year to £117.74 from July 2023 onwards. Some professions, based on the staggered registration renewal cycles in operation, will be unaffected by the increase until 2025. Physiotherapists will pay the higher fee from February 2024.

Photo Credit: Shutterstock
The HCPC claims a rise in fees is urgently needed to make it sustainable financially


HCPC sets out its stall

In its defence, the HCPC states that it has invested resources in recent years in order to improve its Fitness to Practise (FTP) processes and give registrants a better ‘experience’, by, for example, cutting waiting times for its ‘core services’.

Elsewhere, it has ‘strengthened outreach’ in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland and saved £1 million a year by introducing hybrid working for staff and reducing office space. However, the HCPC warns that, without change, such improvements are unsustainable and that its financial reserves will be ‘fully depleted’ by 2024.

Having already tested the waters on its proposals with some stakeholder organisations, the council sets out its position in a detailed 15-page report, titled Consultation on changes to fees.

The report states: ‘We fully recognise that increasing our fee, however necessary, is not a proposal which is easy to support. We agree with the stakeholders who have said to us that we need to demonstrate the value of regulation to our registrants and to try to mitigate the impact of the fee rise.’

But it also notes: ‘This proposed increase is needed to ensure the HCPC can continue to protect the public, support our registered health and care professionals, ensure future professionals are well educated and trained, and meet the statutory objectives set for us by Parliament.

‘Should this increase be implemented, our intention would be to move to smaller, incremental increases in the future.’

Nursing and other professions pay higher fees

The Consultation on changes to fees report points out that the HCPC's annual fees are lower than those set by the other eight professional healthcare regulators and will remain so under the current proposals. For example, nurses pay their regulator £120 a year at present, while doctors pay £406 and chiropractors are charged £750. 

The HCPC has invited individual registrants – along with service users, professional bodies, employers and trades unions – to respond to the proposals by taking part in an online survey, which will close on 15 December.

The confidence of physios in the HCPC was severely damaged when they failed to re-register thousands of our members earlier this year ...asking hard-pressed allied health professionals to pay twice the rate of inflation is simply not on [Ash James, CSP]

To take part in the survey, which sets eight questions, visit: https://www.smartsurvey.co.uk/s/HCPC_Fee_Consultation/

What is the HCPC’s job?

It regulates more than 300,000 health and care professionals in physiotherapy and 14 other professions. Each year, it approves about 70 education programmes, handles more than 1,000 FTP concerns and last year registered more than 18,000 new registrants from the UK and overseas.

The HCPC takes decisions on a person’s fitness to practise or whether they meet the standards to practice in the UK. Such decisions involve ‘thorough, high quality investigation, systematic evidence gathering, and highly trained independent decision makers’, it states.

The HCPC also maintains professional standards in these areas in the following ways

  • sets education standards for the professionals of the future. Rreviews and assesses 820 education programmes taken to qualify in the 15 professions
  • promotes high-quality professional practice
  • protects the public and its professions from illegal practitioners
  • stops unsafe practice


Responding to the HCPC announcement of a possible 20 per cent rise in charges, Ash James, director of practice and development at the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy (CSP), said: ‘The confidence of physios in the HCPC was severely damaged when they failed to re-register thousands of our members earlier this year.

'So we can see major improvements are needed, but asking hard-pressed allied health professionals to pay twice the rate of inflation is simply not on.’

To see PhysioUpdate’s article on the re-registration topic referred to by Mr James, visit: https://www.physioupdate.co.uk/news/staff-working-seven-days-a-week-to-get-physios-who-missed-hcpc-deadline-back-on-to-the--register-/

Christine Elliott, HCPC chair, and John Barwick, chief executive and registrar, said: ‘The HCPC does an important job. Our duties are to protect the public by ensuring that our registrants deliver safe and high-quality care by meeting the standards we set, to take action where safety may be at risk or quality falls short, and to ensure that only those people who are registered with us can practise safely as members of the 15 health and care professions we regulate.'

The HCPC chiefs added: 'We need to ensure we have the finances and resources that enable us to fulfil those duties to a high standard and on a sustainable basis.’

Author: Ian A McMillan
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