State-Regulation: The Fog Begins to Clear

6. The standard of proof in disciplinary proceedings will be that applicable in civil rather than criminal proceedings but on a sliding scale, so that, in the most serious cases (e.g. risk of loss of livelihood) the standard of proof will be virtually identical to the higher standard of proof in criminal proceedings
7. Revalidation of all practitioners at regular intervals by HPC
8. HPC will be responsible for educational standards
9. HPC must make proposals by Jan 2008 concerning the regulation of those in training
10. The government will seek, where possible, to promote common standards across all the professions in question, such as standards of professional conduct and of professional practice relating to areas of practice that require greater harmonisation. While recognising that there needs to be appropriate flexibility to reflect relevant differences between professions, the government believes that all professionals undertaking the same activity should be subject to the same standards of training and practice, so that those who use their services can be assured that there is no difference in quality.

A notable absence in the White Paper, compared with the Foster Review, is any proposal to delegate to existing voluntary regulatory or professional bodies any aspect of regulatory function on behalf of the regulator, save in special circumstances relating only to the NHS. It seems highly unlikely, in such circumstances, that there will ever be any scope for the continued operation, following the introduction of regulation by HPC, of the Independent Complaints Organisation currently being set up by UKCP.

Another consequence of the White Paper is that proposals formerly put forward for the talking therapies, along with applied psychology, to be regulated by a new and separate regulator, such as the proposed Psychological Professions Council, are most unlikely ever to come to fruition.

The government White Paper, while not casting in stone the proposed legislation that must be introduced, in order to effect these changes, makes it much less likely that future developments in this area will differ significantly from what is now proposed in the White Paper.

In the meantime, The Sector Skills Council for Health has launched its consultation of all interested parties, in order to develop an initial competence framework to identify the scope of practice involved in the area of psychotherapy and counselling. The College was invited to contribute its views in that consultation process, which has now closed. To access the College Submission To Skills For Health, please click here.