Regulation: The Plot Thickens

Under existing legislation, the Secretary of State has to hold a public consultation of proposals for regulation by HPC and, until now, it has not been the practice of HPC to regulate professions that are opposed to regulation. Apparently that could be about to change in legislation currently before Parliament, enabling the government to regulate professions against their will. Furthermore, the government appears to have made it clear that, following these changes, it will regulate, via HPC, not only applied psychologists but also, probably, academic psychologists, who were never intended for regulation under the original discussions BPS had with HPC. It seems that there is an increasing determination by the government to regulate, almost immediately via HPC, psychologists of all descriptions and, ultimately within a few years, all practitioners of the psychological therapies, also via HPC.

At relatively short notice, a meeting of the Regulation Reference Group was convened on 10th October, which was attended by a representative of The College. What emerged was a joint presentation by UKCP, BACP and BPS, calling for the Regulation Reference Group to agree to make, by 10th November, a joint submission with the Partnership Group in the consultation process arising out of the Foster Review. The principal component of this submission comprised a fairly detailed outline for a new Psychological Professions Council (PPC) to regulate those professions allied to psychology, alongside those professions concerned with the psychological therapies. Although a version of this document was published on the BPS website, it subsequently emerged that the document is the result of a collaboration between BPS, UKCP and BACP. It was difficult at this meeting not to feel somewhat steam-rollered by these proposals, arising out of the immediate threat to psychologists at a time when no similar threat to practitioners of counselling and psychotherapy arises in the immediate future.

The College made every attempt to play a constructive role in these discussions and indicated that it might be possible to agree to a joint statement that was sufficiently widely worded and in a manner that would entail no definite commitment of any kind on the part of The College. In the end, the draft statement submitted by the Partnership Group for agreement by the Regulation Reference Group was too specific and insufficiently widely expressed to enable The College to agree to subscribe to it. As there was almost no time for further discussion, The College declined to subscribe but expressed its willingness to continue in constructive discussion about these issues.

In the end, The College made its own submission, under the consultation process arising from the Foster Review. A copy of that submission can be accessed by clicking this link.