The Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) is increasing its annual fees by 18% for members for 15 health professions.
The increase has been met with dismay by UNISON, the union representing many of the health care professionals affected, and by professional organisations, including the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy and the UK Association of Dieticians (BDA), that represent many of those registered with the HCPC.
UNISON notes that this rise means that the fees have increased by 40% since 2014. As well as the fee hike, the HCPC has also decided to remove discounts for new graduates.
The HCPC argues that the increase in fees is needed to make up for the loss of fees that will take place as social workers will no longer be registered by the HCPC from later this year. As social workers under went the highest number of fitness to practice tests, then the HCPC will also lose money from this aspect of its work.
Registration with the HCPC is essential for members of 15 health professions, including physiotherapists, biomedical scientists, occupational therapists, radiographers, dieticians, and paramedics. Subject to parliamentary approval the fee increases will come into effect 1 October 2019.
UNISON reported that its survey of members registered with the HCPC found 99% did not agree with the increase, with more than 75% saying the HCPC does not provide value for money with the current fee. The union notes that the rise is completely disproportionate to wage increases in the NHS.
Professional bodies have also surveyed their members, including the Chartered Society of Physiotherapists, which found 90% of those that replied said no to the increase.
UNISON along with other professional organisations wrote an open letter to the HCPC in December 2018 arguing against the increase. Since then lobbying of MPs has taken place and a letter signed by 47 MPs has been sent to the HCPC.
The letter points out that the increase is “disproportionate to the current rate of inflation and fails to take account of the real terms wage freezes that many health staff have had to endure over the last few years.” In addition, the increase is likely to deter staff staying in their roles and new staff joining, in particular part-time workers.
The MPs called upon the HCPC to look at the way it works and improving its processes and procedures to save money, rather than increasing fees.
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