Mid Scotland and Fife MSP, Dr Richard Simpson has called for the withdrawal of the proposed substantial increase in professional fees for those registered with the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC).
The HCPC regulates 15 health professions across the UK, together with social workers in England. Operating department practitioners and practitioner psychologists fall within the legislative competence of the Scottish Parliament because they have been regulated since the Scotland Act 1998.
In 2014, the HCPC increased registration fees by an inflation-busting 5% but indicated to registrants that their fees would not be reviewed again for two years. However, in April 2015 it launched a short consultation on another unexpected fee increase of 12.5%, to take effect in August 2015.
As a Member of the Health and Sports Committee, Dr Richard Simpson MSP has expressed his opposition to this subordinate legislation. He has tabled a motion in the Scottish Parliament for the HCPC to annul the increase in professional fees.
The HCPC claimed that it had been forced to raise fees again in 2015 because the government had ceased funding for the Professional Standards Authority (PSA) – the body that oversees the health regulators including the HCPC, the Nursing and Midwifery Council and the General Medical Council. The UK government has replaced their previous contribution by introducing a levy on individual regulators to fund the activities of the PSA.as a consequence the HCPC said it had no choice but to pass this cost on to registrants.
However, the HCPC admits that the PSA levy only comes to £3 per year per registrant, yet its proposal is for increases of between £10 and £25 a year.
Dr Richard Simpson MSP said:
“The withdrawal of funding from HCPC by the UK Government is yet another attack on health professionals who have had a pay freeze for several years. They have already been forced to pay significant pension increases simply to help with the deficit. But this offence is being compounded by the far larger increases demanded by the HCPC.
“This increase is extremely unfair on the registrants who are concerned that the HCPC appears to have license to keep increasing fees year on year well above inflation, while registrants face on-going pay restraint.
“In these difficult times measures like this, especially when they particularly affect women and part time workers are unfair. I have seen no equality impact statement from the HCPC or the government on this measure.
“For some this will be a final straw which pushes them into agency working instead.”