The Health Professions Council is the regulatory council set up to protect the public from poor treatment or misconduct by a health professional in the United Kingdom. HPC regulates 15 health professions and develops strategy and policy that sometimes becomes law. The HPC also accepts and investigates claims of malpractice and takes action to remove members from practice if a problem is found to be legitimate. One of the standards the Health Professions Council holds its members to is a Code of Conduct, Performance and Ethics.
The focus of the standards are as follows: "-- focus, where possible, on providing guidance to registrants, based on our expectations of their behaviour; -- be based on overarching principles with some more detail on important points (with more detailed guidance available elsewhere, if necessary); -- apply to all registrants (as far as possible), including those involved in research, clinical practice, education and roles in industry; and -- be written in broad terms to be able to take account of changes in best practice, technology, the law and wider society in the future."
The outlined responsibilities of health practitioners who are members of the HPC include acting in the best interest of patients, protecting their confidentiality, upholding high standards of personal conduct, keeping professional knowledge up to date and not practicing outside the boundaries of that expertise, and self-reporting on conduct. There are 14 responsibilities of care providers, as well as standards outlined, conduct expected, and decision-making guidelines in the responsibilities section of the Code.
The Standards of Conduct Performance and Ethics section of the Code makes up the heart of the document. It contains 14 clearly outlined and specific directives to the practitioner about how to practice in accordance with the Code. Sections include information about communicating with patients, supervising other staff effectively, informed consent and many other ethical considerations in health care practice.
Fitness to practice is concisely addressed in the last section of this document and is a strong concern of the HPC. The HPC defines a practitioner who is fit to practice as one who has "the skills, knowledge, character and health to practise their profession safely and effectively." This section also outlines the steps that can be taken against a practitioner on the complaint of a patient. In order, they are "cautioning a registrant, placing conditions on their registration, suspending them from practice or, in the most serious cases, removing them from the Register."
The HPC asks practitioners to use certain language, and some of that language is defined at the end of the document for clarity.