Return to practice for HCPC registrants

Last updated: 4th August 2021

Returning healthcare professionals play a key role in ensuring patients and service users have access to experienced, well-trained care healthcare staff.

Helping to get professionals back in the workforce

Natalie Matchett, is the Interim National Return to Practice (RTP) Lead on the National RTP Team, within Health Education England (HEE). She leads the RTP programme to support Healthcare Scientists, Allied Health Professionals and Practicing Psychologists who have left the profession (and therefore the HCPC register) and wish to return to practice. Natalie and her team are able to provide help and information to support former registrants return to the HCPC register. They also help anyone who is interested in hosting and supporting a ‘returner’. You can contact Natalie at Natalie.Matchett@hee.nhs.uk.

This is what Natalie had to say about the HEE Return to Practice programme.

About the programme

Our programme is designed to give the opportunity for returners to refresh their knowledge and skills and complete a period of updating. We can offer clinical, academic, and financial support to help returners meet the HCPC RTP requirements if they have been out of practice. We know during the course of people’s careers some may not practice for a period of time. This can be for various reasons including caring responsibilities and parental leave. Some of those people may want to come back to their profession and resume practising, which is where we can help them and why we have this programme. We continue to engage with many stakeholders including professional bodies, the HCPC and organisations about the benefits of supporting RTP.

Professionals only need to complete the RTP process after a break of more than 2 years. The amount of updating increases the longer you have been out of practice, but there is no maximum amount of time. Whether it has been 3 or 30 years we can help professionals meet the HCPC RTP requirements.

Our programme is open to all former HCPC registrants, including healthcare scientists. They must live and work in England within the healthcare, educational and social care sector and plan to return to the HCPC register.

Inclusion Exclusion
Qualified Healthcare Scientists, Allied Health Professionals and Practicing Psychologists living in England who want to return to the HCPC register to work in a health, education or social care environment in England. Healthcare Scientists, Allied Health Professionals and Practicing Psychologists who qualified abroad and have never been registered with the HCPC.
Those previously registered with the HCPC. Returnees looking to work outside England when returned to the HCPC register.
Those qualified in the UK but have not registered with the HCPC in the last 5 years. Excludes any individual that has a fitness to practice issue cited against them on the HCPC register.
Already registered with the HCPC and looking for a period of clinical updating as they have not practised in a patient facing role for at least 2 years. The programme is unable to support Biomedical Scientists looking to undertake a period of updating to meet their Certificate of Competency. The programme is unable to support training posts.

Further details on eligibility criteria is available on the HEE website.

RTP requirements are flexible and allow professionals, like healthcare scientists, to update their knowledge and skills through a self-directed process. The returning professional can decide how to complete their period of updating to suit their own learning needs, in a way that suits their personal circumstances. This can be undertaken in the form of supervised practice, private and formal studies. Returners can also use private and formal study as evidence of updating e.g. webinars, journals, podcasts and certified courses.

The programme supports returnees who undertake supervised practice in the following areas:

  • NHS
  • educational
  • social care
  • councils
  • charities
  • voluntary
  • non-profit making independent sector organisations

We can inform returners about local organisations that may be able to offer support with supervised practice. Returners can also visit the NHS jobs and the TRAC website and type in ‘return to practice’ for more information on potential return to practice roles.

If you are an employer who is interested in hosting and supporting a returner, get in touch with the RTP team and we will add your details to our list of contacts.

A number of local universities run postgraduate study to support RTP. Further information on the specific RTP courses available and requirements for your profession is available on the HCPC website.

Different routes to return to practice

Different routes to RTP exist and can be in any paid employment or volunteering roles, including ‘support worker’ posts. The whole team can contribute to their support, as long as they are alongside a member who is on the HCPC register.

Some organisations offer a placement route via the use of an honorary contract where there are no obligations on either party for employment. Others offer an employment route, whereby returners are placed on a Band 3/4 fixed term contract until they achieve their re-registration. They can then go on to be offered a substantive post if one is available. Both routes have shown organisations the benefits of hosting returners, which helps with recruitment and retention workforce strategies.

We can provide funding to both the returner and supporting organisations that provide supervised practice. There is also additional funding for returners that complete any relevant courses to update their knowledge and skills. The programme can also provide access to free e-learning modules and a closed RTP Member Facebook page for peer support.

Hear from some returning healthcare professionals

Take a look at these short videos of returning Allied Health Professionals and Healthcare Scientists. They have shared what it was like for them to return to practice.

Thinking of returning to practice?

If you are thinking of returning to practice, read through the returnee information on the RTP programme website and complete their RTP form.

Return to Practice myths busted for Allied Health Professionals, Healthcare Scientists and practising Psychologists

If you are interested in returning to practice and have thought about any of the ‘myths’ listed below, visit the Health Education England website and find out what the answers really are.

  • Myth 1 – Does my competency need to be assessed?
  • Myth 2 – Can I assess and treat patients, even in the community?
  • Myth 3 – Can I go on an honorary contact? What about a DBS and Occupational Health Check?
  • Myth 4 – Can I be in a paid employment role or volunteering post as evidence of Return to Practice days?
  • Myth 5 – Do I need my notes counter signing or what do I sign as?
  • Myth 6 – Can I get funding?
  • Myth 7 – Can I use support worker roles to Return to Practice?
  • Myth 8 – I don’t know where to start!