I was recently asked to contribute to NHS Health Education England’s e-Learning for Healthcare, a programme that works in partnership with NHS and professional bodies such as Royal Colleges to support patient care by providing e-learning to educate and train the health and social care workforce.
e-LfH has over a million registered users, has achieved many industry awards for best practice in e-learning and has been described as “transforming medical education for the 21st century”. The content I contributed appears below and can be accessed by registered users at https://portal.e-lfh.org.uk/
“From my perspective as a Professional Discipline & Healthcare Regulatory lawyer, my top five tips for paramedics during the current pandemic would be:
- Many paramedics are very fearful of the HCPC and/or fitness to practise proceedings. It’s important to bear in mind that the risk of this happening is actually tiny. Just 1.14% of registered paramedics were the subject of a HCPC complaint in 2017/18. Of these complaints, the vast majority were immediately closed by the HCPC with no action. The risk of proceeding through a formal fitness to practise investigation is minute and should not be a regular source of concern.
- In addition, the UK’s health and care regulators, including the HCPC, have issued a joint statement regarding their revised approach to regulation in light of Coronavirus/Covid 19. This notes “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. Our regulatory standards are designed to be flexible”. The statement also provides reassurance in terms that “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 [and] any relevant information about resource, guidelines or protocols in place at the time”.
- The starting position, even in these strange times, must be to try and adhere to your normal practices and procedures. However, as an autonomous professional, you have discretion to assess any clinical situation and use your knowledge and experience to determine the most appropriate course of action in all the circumstances. Running alongside this, it is important to be able to justify your decision-making rationale and to maintain high quality records explaining your treatment plans and choices. It is difficult to go far wrong if you always remain mindful of the core obligation to promote and protect the best interests of your patients.
- This is a very difficult time for anyone working in healthcare and I would really encourage you to try and look after your own wellbeing. Details of free support services for paramedics (and other healthcare professionals), including 1:1 therapy, can be found at the Practitioner Health Programme website – https://www.practitionerhealth.nhs.uk/support-services-access-to-therapy. The PHP website also includes details of the many wellbeing Apps, ranging from Sleepio to Headspace, which have been made available to NHS staff at no cost- https://www.practitionerhealth.nhs.uk/wellbeing-app. A further incredible resource is TASC, The Ambulance Staff Charity, which provides a range of services ranging from physical rehabilitation to financial grants to counselling and more – https://www.theasc.org.uk/
- To all former HCPC registrants or final year students considering whether to practise via the HCPC’s COVID-19 Temporary Register, I would say that it’s important to fully consider the best option for your individual circumstances and whether you can confidently meet both the HCPC’s Standards of Conduct, Performance & Ethics and the Standards of Proficiency for your profession. As the HCPC itself has emphasised “you can support the NHS in other ways such as by practising in an assistant role or under a non-protected title which reflects your current level of skills and knowledge.”