Health and Care Professions Council

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Health and Care Professions Council
PredecessorCouncil for Professions Supplementary to Medicine
Formation2003 (2003)
TypeStatutory regulator
PurposeTo protect the public
United Kingdom
Membership (2020)
Parent organization
Professional Standards Authority Edit this at Wikidata

The Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC), formerly the Health Professions Council (HPC), is a statutory regulator of over 280,000[1] professionals from 15 health and care professions in the United Kingdom. The Council reports its main purpose is to protect the public. It does this by setting and maintaining standards of proficiency and conduct for the professions it regulates.[2] Its key functions include approving education and training programmes which health and care professionals must complete before they can register with the HCPC; and maintaining and publishing a Register of health and care providers who meet pre-determined professional requirements and standards of practice.


The Health Professions Council was set up in 2003 under the National Health Service Reform and Health Care Professions Act 2002, to replace the Council for Professions Supplementary to Medicine (CPSM).

By 2005, thirteen protected titles were regulated by the HPC: arts therapists; biomedical scientists; chiropodists/podiatrists; clinical scientists; dieticians; occupational therapists; operating department practitioners; orthoptists; paramedics; physiotherapists; prosthetists and orthotists; radiographers; and speech and language therapists.[3]

On 1 August 2012, the organisation took over the regulation of social workers in England from the General Social Care Council.[4] The HPC was renamed the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC), reflecting its new responsibilities.[5] These changes were made by the UK Government as part of the Health and Social Care Act 2012. The strap line that they use was also changed to "Regulating health, psychological and social work professionals" which was considered better suited to describe the diversity of professionals that they regulate.[6] The HCPC has also reported it was being accorded new powers to set up voluntary registers for unregulated professions or related professions, including students seeking to enter a regulated or unregulated profession or related occupation.[7]

The work of the HCPC and other health professions regulators in the UK (the General Medical Council, Nursing and Midwifery Council, General Dental Council, etc.) is overseen by the Professional Standards Authority.

On 2 December 2019, the regulation of social workers in England was transferred to a new body, Social Work England.[8]

Professions regulated by the HCPC[edit]

The HCPC regulates 15 categories of health and care professionals. They are:[9]

Category Protected Titles Number of registrants Professional bodies
Arts therapists Art Psychotherapist
Art Therapist
Music Therapist
4,725 British Association of Art Therapists
British Association of Dramatherapists
British Association for Music Therapy
Biomedical scientists Biomedical Scientist 23,785 Institute of Biomedical Science
Chiropodists/podiatrists Chiropodist
13,106 The Society of Chiropodists & Podiatrists
The British Chiropody and Podiatry Association
The Institute of Chiropodists and Podiatrists
The Alliance of Private Sector Chiropody and Podiatry Practitioners
Clinical Scientists Clinical Scientist 6,917 Association of Clinical Scientists (ACS)

Institute of Physics and Engineering in Medicine (IPEM)

Dietitians Dietitian 10,136 British Dietetic Association
Hearing aid dispensers Hearing aid dispenser 3,263 British Society of Hearing Aid Audiologists (BSHAA)
Occupational therapists Occupational Therapist 39,495 Royal College of Occupational Therapists
Operating department practitioners Operating Department Practitioner 14,351 College of Operating Department Practitioners (CODP)
Association for Perioperative Practice (AfPP)
Orthoptists Orthoptist 1,485 British & Irish Orthoptic Society (BIOS)
Paramedics Paramedic 28,617 College of Paramedics
Physiotherapists Physical Therapist
57,796 Chartered Society of Physiotherapy
Practitioner psychologists (e.g. Clinical psychologists) Clinical psychologist
Counselling psychologist
Educational psychologist
Forensic psychologist
Health psychologist
Occupational psychologist
Practitioner psychologist
Registered psychologist
Sport and exercise psychologist
24,478 British Psychological Society (BPS)
Association of Clinical Psychologists (ACP-UK)
Association of Educational Psychologists
Prosthetists and orthotists Orthotist
1,077 British Association of Prosthetists & Orthotists
Radiographers Diagnostic Radiographer
Therapeutic Radiographer
36,234 The Society & College of Radiographers
Speech and language therapists Speech and Language Therapist
Speech Therapist
16,384 Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists

All these professions have at least one designated title that is protected by law, including those shown above. Anyone using these titles must be registered with the HCPC. It is a criminal offence for someone to claim that they are registered with the HCPC when they are not, or to use a protected title that they are not entitled to use.[10]

Maintaining standards[edit]

If a professional who is registered with them does not meet the standards which are set, the HCPC can take action which might include stopping an individual from practising.[11]

Other UK healthcare regulators[edit]

The Professional Standards Authority for Health and Social Care (PSA) is an independent body accountable to the UK Parliament, which promotes the health and well-being of the public and oversees the nine UK healthcare regulators. These are:


In 2016, via a Freedom of Information request it was revealed that despite increasing registration costs for healthcare professionals, the HCPC spent over £17,000 on their Christmas party.[12] For 224 attendees, the cost-per-head for one meal was £76.12, comparable to the yearly registration costs for many workers.

After the registration of social workers was transferred to Social Work England, the HCPC's registrants fell by approximately 100,000;[13] the new total of 281,000 represented a fall of around 26%. Despite their workload decreasing, it was found through an FOI request in 2020 that the HCPC had not made any redundancies in their organisation[14] and were increasing registration costs.[15]

After the number of international applications for registration increased in 2021, the HCPC was criticised for the increasing length of time taken to process these applications. The Professional Standards Authority for Health and Social Care, which oversees the HCPC, reported that by mid-2022 the median time for the HCPC to reach a first decision on international applications was over 90 weeks. The PSA considered that this was serious, "given that the delays could seriously affect applicants and aggravate workforce shortages in the NHS".[16]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Registrant snapshot - 1 February 2020". HCPC. Retrieved 10 June 2020.
  2. ^ Health and Care Professions Council: About Us - Retrieved 13 August 2012.
  3. ^ "Register aims to stop bogus health practitioners". The Guardian. 6 June 2005. Retrieved 25 September 2016.
  4. ^ "Press release: Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) takes over the regulation of social workers in England". Health and Care Professions Council. 1 August 2014. Retrieved 2 August 2014.
  5. ^ "Press release: New name for the Health Professions Council". Health and Care Professions Council. 1 August 2014. Retrieved 2 August 2014.
  6. ^ "About us: We have changed our name". Health and Care Professions Council. Retrieved 2 August 2014.
  7. ^ Health Professions Council meeting agenda summary, Thursday 10 February 2011 - Retrieved 14 March 2011.
  8. ^ "The regulation of social workers in England has transferred to Social Work England". Health & Care Professions Council. 4 July 2019. Retrieved 10 June 2020.
  9. ^ "About registration: Professions". Health and Care Professions Council. Retrieved 1 August 2014.
  10. ^ "About registration: Protected titles". Health and Care Professions Council. Retrieved 1 August 2014.
  11. ^ "Complaints". Health and Care Professions Council. Retrieved 2 August 2014.
  12. ^ "Christmas parties cost - a Freedom of Information request to Health and Care Professions Council". 5 April 2016.
  13. ^ "• Social workers in the UK 2021 | Statista".
  14. ^ "How many staff have been laid off since offloading social worker registration - a Freedom of Information request to Health and Care Professions Council". 14 October 2020.
  15. ^ "Changes to our registration fees |".
  16. ^ "The Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) Performance Review – Monitoring year 2021/22" (PDF). Professional Standards Authority for Health and Social Care. 31 March 2022. Retrieved 20 December 2022.

External links[edit]