The following announcement was recently made to members of the professional bodies involved with the Voluntary Register of Clinical Technologists:

"At its meeting held on 13 May 2004, the Health Professions Council (HPC) agreed to regulate the Clinical Technologist profession, however, the decision was tempered because of the HPC’s need to have further evidence before making a final recommendation for regulation to the Secretary of State for Health. The paragraphs below provide further details.

The fundamental purpose of the Voluntary Register of Clinical Technologists is to demonstrate to relevant stakeholders the need to regulate the Clinical Technologist profession. Since the Register opened in October 2000 much work has been undertaken by the members of the VRCT’s constituent professional bodies (IPEM, ART and IIE) to ensure that this purpose is achieved.

The application for regulation was completed and submitted to the Health Professions Council in March 2004 (Copies of some the documentation submitted can be found on the HPC website at http://www.hpc-uk.org/council/meetings.htm under the details for the meeting held on 13th May 2004). Of fundamental importance in the application was the compromise reached between the VRCT and the Department of Health regarding the level and range of acceptable qualifications. Thus the VRCT went forward with a dual qualification application, that is, HNC/HND for engineering technologists and a degree in clinical technology for physics technologists.

The executive summary of the application can be found on the IPEM website at http://www.ipem.org.uk/clintech/clintech.html along with a copy of the detailed presentation made to the HPC. Only seven days before the May meeting the HPC issued their scoring of the VRCT application. The result of the scoring was particularly disappointing and left a lot of work to be done to address the issues raised and only a short time in which to do so.

According to the HPC, the two main weaknesses of the application were the failure to define the discrete area of activity displaying some homogeneity, and, the lack of a body of knowledge! (Note: if you wish to review the HPC application process for new professions, this can be found on the HPC website at http://www.hpc-uk.org/professions/new_professions.htm .) Other problem areas included the defined routes of entry and independent assessment of the entry qualifications. During the intervening seven days significant work was undertaken to ensure that the presentation made to the HPC addressed those issues as well as incorporating the entire application.

The VRCT representatives at the HPC were Mick Wingell (IIE), David Gandy (ART) and Jim Methven (IPEM), who made the presentation. The Council consisted of between 25-30 members and there were perhaps another 15-20 members of the general public also present. The presentation contained slides identifying the many and varied roles of the Clinical Technologist but equally emphasising the common threads between them. The intention was to explain to the HPC exactly who Clinical Technologists are, what they do, where they operate and with whom they work.

Once the presentation was finished there was then a period for Council Members to ask questions. These included questions about the education requirements, disciplinary procedure, membership and the results of the ballot of Registrants. Questions were also asked about the minimum educational requirements, the difference between Medical Physics and Clinical Engineering, Radiographers, Clinical Scientists and the Life Science Technicians, but eventually the majority of the questions revolved around the differences between the two routes of entry: the Medical Physics Clinical Technology degree route, and, the Clinical Engineering route using the HNC/HND model. After about forty five minutes of detailed and intense questioning a debate followed. Eventually after much angst and detailed discussion, the Council voted on a proposal to regulate the profession. They agreed that the practice of Clinical Technologists has the potential to cause harm and therefore requires to be regulated. However, there were conditions attached that would need to be satisfied before the Council could make a final decision.

Essentially they require clarification on two points: Firstly, that the requisite minimum level of education to work safely as a Clinical Technologist must be set at the same level across all of the disciplines and not set differently as in the application. Secondly, that further consideration should be given to the part of the HPC Register on which Clinical Technologists would be regulated (this may mean that perhaps consideration be given to joining with other groups such as Life Science Technicians working with technology, who might also fit onto the register).

They agreed to consider these matters at the HPC Council meeting to be held in September, when a final decision would be made. Apparently, the final decision on whether to regulate Clinical Perfusionists and Clinical Physiologists will also be made at the September meeting. It is uncertain at this stage exactly what the VRCT input will be to that meeting, although it was suggested that documentary evidence might be all that is required. Arrangements have been made to have a further meeting with HPC officials on 21 July. Before this meeting takes place it is hoped to meet with the Department of Health’s Chief Scientific Officer and representatives of the DoH Regulation Branch.

A number of tough decisions will need to be made soon which could have repercussions for the future development of the profession – especially with regard to minimum acceptable qualifications. IPEM members will be advised of developments. In the meantime, if you have any comments to make about the VRCT application please send these, in writing, to the VRCT Registrar at the IPEM Office.

Footnote:
The actual wording of the HPC decision is as follows:

“RESOLVED:

That clinical technologists should be regulated but that before a recommendation to that effect is made to the Secretary of State:

1. The VRCT submit further evidence to satisfy HPC that an appropriate Standard of Proficiency can be established for clinical technologists as a single profession; and

2. Further consideration is given to the Part in the HPC register in which clinical technologists should be regulated, having regard to the proposed re-structuring of the HPC Register.”

Jim Methven (IPEM)
David Gandy (ART)
Mick Wingell (IIE)"


Edited to resolve bad link - Huw