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The Health and Care Professions Tribunal Service
Independence in the adjudication of hearings has been an important topic for the HCPC’s Fitness to Practise (FTP) Department for many years and reflects the clear role separation that the Council has sought since it was established.
There is already a high degree of functional separation within the FTP Department, which ensures that individuals do not perform functions relating to both the investigation of fitness to practise allegations and their adjudication.
At its meeting in July 2016, Council agreed to the creation of the Health and Care Professions Tribunal Service (HCPTS) to enhance this separation. This reflects government’s recommendation for greater separation between regulators’ investigation and adjudication functions, highlighted in their response to the Law Commissions’ Report and draft Bill, Regulation of Health and Social Care Professionals in January 2015.
The HCPTS will therefore provide a distinct identity to highlight that the adjudication of FTP allegations is undertaken at arm’s length from the HCPC, by independent panels.
What will the change mean?
The establishment of the HCPTS will ensure a high degree of independent decision making by FTP panel members and enables transparency in the independent appointment of decision-makers.
However, the HCPTS will not be a separate organisation to the HCPC. It will provide a distinct identity to highlight that the adjudication of FTP allegations is undertaken at arm’s length from the HCPC by independent panels. This will mean that the HCPTS will be operating in the same way but with enhanced separation and new governance arrangements, such as the creation of the Tribunal Advisory Committee.
The Tribunal Advisory Committee (TAC) will be a non-statutory committee that reports directly to Council. Their role will be to advise on the qualities, abilities and competencies of tribunal panelists, tribunal chairs and legal assessors, including their selection, training and assessment. In addition, they will advise the Tribunal on practice and procedure relating to fitness to practise proceedings. Recruitment for the TAC begins on Monday 10 October 2016 .
Work is currently underway on the creation of the HCPTS and we are aiming to launch in April 2017. More information will be added to this section as the project develops.