Department of Health announces response on consultation

Regulation of Public Health Specialists by HCPC

The Department of Health has today published its formal response to the consultation on the regulation of public health specialists. Click here to read the response.

The Department confirms its decision to legislate for statutory regulation of public health specialists by HCPC.

The previously drafted Section 60 Order is out of date because of the decisions referred to in the Department’s response.

A new Section 60 Order is currently being drafted. It is not yet clear whether the previously intended transfer date of  December 2015 will be maintained or whether a later transfer date will be substituted (April 2016 has been suggested).

UKPHR will have a lot to discuss with HCPC in the coming months, not least the arrangements for dealing with any new applications for registration as defined specialists.

Other points to note about the Department’s decision include these:

  • The protected title will be “registered public health specialist”
  • Dual registration will not be necessary for doctors and dentists NOR for nurses and pharmacists PROVIDED in each of these cases the individual is on the appropriate specialist part of the regulator’s register
  • For doctors (and dentists, nurses and pharmacists) not on the specialist part of the regulator’s register they must register EITHER on the specialist part of the register OR with HCPC otherwise they will commit an offence if they call themselves registered public health specialists
  • There will be a grandparenting period of 2 years but after that there will be no more defined specialists accepted on HCPC’s register. This will leave HCPC only accepting applicants off the specialty training programme unless HCPC subsequently authorises any new route to register
  • The Department accepts that HCPC will not revalidate public health specialists and urges the Faculty, Public Health England and the regulators to devise a voluntary arrangement similar to revalidation
  • Regulation is a reserved matter and the policy applies UK-wide

The Department has to publish the amended draft Section 60 Order and put it before Parliament to be passed by both Houses.

Subsequently, HCPC will consult on various aspects of its proposed scheme of regulation, for example, routes to register and registration fees.

UKPHR’s Board has a meeting on Tuesday 3rd February which gives the Directors an early opportunity to discuss the implications of today’s announcement for the future of UKPHR.

UKPHR’s Executive Director, David Kidney says of today’s announcement:

“At UKPHR we always aim for improved registration services for public health specialists and practitioners alike. We are proud of our achievements to date and we see no reason why we should not go on to secure many more sustainable improvements in public health regulation.

“There are a number of details still to ascertain, both with regard to the Department’s legislation and HCPC’s proposed scheme, and we will engage with both organisations as well as all other stakeholders to ensure that there is a shared, clear understanding of what will happen next.

“In the meantime, it is very much business as usual for UKPHR as we work for continuous improvement in public protection and public health practice”