The Covid-19 pandemic has called on health and care professionals to work in non-traditional clinical and care roles. How does fitness to practise feature in this context?
HCPC Joint Statement
This week, the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) and the College of Paramedics issued a joint statement on the issue. It said:
The Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) and the College of Paramedics recognise that practitioners registered as paramedics often work in non-traditional roles (roles different to their protected title of ‘paramedic’). This includes working as First Aiders or Emergency Medical Technicians.
The HCPC and the College of Paramedics are aware of concerns in the paramedic profession about acting in these types of roles, such as the impact this might have on their professional registration.
The HCPC and the College of Paramedics support registered paramedics practising in these roles.
When working in these roles, it is important that registered paramedics continue to meet the HCPC’s standards and to follow any guidance set by the College of Paramedics, if they are a member.
Other healthcare Regulators
All of the other statutory regulators of health and care professionals in the UK has issued a joint statement along similar lines stating:
“We recognise that in highly challenging circumstances, professionals may need to depart from established procedures in order to care for patients and people using health and social care services.
“We recognise that the individuals on our registers may feel anxious about how context is taken into account when concerns are raised about their decisions and actions in very challenging circumstances. Where a concern is raised about a registered professional, it will always be considered on the specific facts of the case, taking into account the factors relevant to the environment in which the professional is working. We would also take account of any relevant information about resource, guidelines or protocols in place at the time.”
Whilst the statutory regulators of health and care professionals made it clear that context in fitness to practise will be key, health and care professionals must continue to approach clinical care and decisions in non-traditional roles. This is particularly important where the scope of non-traditional roles of care takes you beyond your scope of experience, knowledge and/or clinical care.
If you are asked to operate in a non-traditional roles beyond the scope of your practice it is advisable that, as opportunity presents, you raise this with the appropriate clinician to ensure they are aware and, should fitness to practise proceedings follow, you can rely on this as part of your defence. We know though that care is often fast paced and immediate, in emergency care cases where clinical care and decisions are likely to go beyond your scope, seek advice or guidance from more experienced health and care professionals part of the care or multidisciplinary team.