20 July 2015

Who is publicising the PSAs Accredited Registers?

I recently published a post written by guest blogger Patrick Killeen on the Professional Standards Authority's Accredited Registers (ARs, previously known as Accredited Voluntary Registers/AVRs) the closest thing we have in the UK to the regulation and accountability of counsellors and psychotherapists. Patrick wrote a compelling argument about how the registers could effectively protect the public without the need for statutory regulation...if only the public knew of their existence... I highlighted the lack of awareness of the ARs in an article last year.

In light of Patrick's post and the few comments I received from other pro-regulation therapists on Twitter, I decided to ask the PSA what exactly they were doing to raise public awareness of the registers. As usual, they were very forthcoming with a prompt response:

The Authority works in partnership with each of the Accredited Registers to share information about the programme with a mixture of high level opinion formers in the health and care sector, and the general public. We each raise awareness through our stakeholder channels (including, for example, NHS England and NHS Employers) and the registers’ registrants do so directly with their patients and clients.

As the programme enters its third year, we are undertaking increasing amounts of work to raise awareness of its role in ensuring public protection.

One example of the work which we’ve done to increase awareness of the programme was our recent publication of Accredited Registers - Ensuring that health and care practitioners are competent and safe (this link no longer works and has been removed) which we sent to a wide range of stakeholders across national and local government, charities and the private sector. We are following up with meetings with key people. On 1 July we held a Round Table attended by around 40 representatives from all of those sectors, including National Voices, NHS Employers and the National Care Forum. This event generated a very positive discussion regarding ways in which all sectors could work in partnership to promote patient care through the use of accredited registers. Taking the suggestions from that meeting forwards, and building on the work already undertaken, we are drawing up a new communications plan for the forthcoming year.  We are also developing an information hub for commissioners and referrers and we will be sharing further information about this shortly.

My advice to fellow practitioners who are on an AR is to publicise this on your website, directory listings and in person to new clients. Explain what it means and help spread the word. I'll be relieved when the public at large start to wonder why a therapist or organisation is not on an Accredited Register.

Amanda Williamson Reg MBACP (Accred)


Interested reader said...

I am pro statutory regulation. I think that voluntary PSA is a good start but it doesn't adequately safeguard. As yes you can just continue to work. Something I noticed when looking through the Health and Social Care Act 2012, which the accredited registers in it current form derived from, is that the act states that professionals struck from their registers should be referred to local authority safeguarding boards. Is this happening routinely? I doubt that is is.
Clients in any form of therapy could be considered vulnerable adults/adults at risk according to the Care Act (2014) definition;
(14.2) the safeguarding duties apply to an adult who 1) has care and needs for support (whether or not the local authority is providing this) 2) is at risk of or experiencing abuse 3) as a result of support needs is unable to protect self from risk of or the experience of neglect or abuse.
Interestingly emotional needs are now classed as care needs in the Care Act - so by definition clients in need of emotional support ie in therapy could meet the new eligibility criterion.
Where is the procedure within organisations under the PSA to report individuals who have been struck off to local authority safeguarding boards? This would be an interesting freedom of information request.
Great blog btw - have been reading both yours and Phil Dore's for some time with interest, first time commenting though.

Patrick Killeen said...

The Accredited Registers are based on a statutory register of registers, making them literally a form of statutory regulation in their own right. What form would you want “statutory regulation” to take instead?

Protected Titles offer no more safeguards from unregulated practitioners than Accredited Registers: nothing stopped Derek Gale from practicing “Psychodrama” after being struck of the statutory register of Art Therapists; and if someone is struck off the statutory registers of Chiropodists or of Physiotherapist they are free to carry on regardless as a foot heath practitioner or as a sports injury massage practitioner. It’s not the case that the Accredited Registers offer less protection, they just don’t give the illusion of protection where there is none.

They’re interesting points that you make about the Health Care Act (2012). From my experience of the PSA you wouldn’t need to make a Freedom of Information request to find out where they stand, I’d be surprised if they didn’t answer a simple email from you.


Interested reader said...

Hi Patrick,
I'm pro statutory regulation, for all the reasons you and Amanda highlight. The system doesn't work as it stands. I don't think you can have half measures, with some practitioners using protected titles and others not. As you point out, you can be struck off as a HCPC registered practitioner, set up under a different, un regulated title and continue to work with vulnerable people. It is overly confusing for clients and hard to navigate, in a time when the client is often in a difficult and distressed place (hence their search for a therapist). I don't think it is an impossible task to define the work talking therapists do, to outline the initial and ongoing training necessary and clarify the ethical guidelines that are essential to adhere to. Yes, the PSA is a good start, but I would like to see it as a stepping stone to statutory regulation that does offer more protection and consequences (ie not working with vulnerable people) when serious ethical breaches have been identified.
I also agree with yours and Amanda's stance that clinicians/therapists/counsellors etc have a responsibility to advertise and promote the regulation that does exist so that unscrupulous individuals are recognised as such.
I'm sure the PSA would reply, it was just a pondering on my part though, curious as to whether the changes to the care act in April had any bearing (I think they do) and wondering if these dots had been joined up (I don't think they have). I don't intend to persue it.

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