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Qualified or Quack?


















  January 2006

HPC Health Professional Council logo  


Regulator launches register check of UK health professionals at 

Have you ever used the services of a physiotherapist, chiropodist or anyone offering

health treatment or complementary therapy? Did you check whether they were qualified?


Eight out of 10 patients of UK health professionals (not including doctors and nurses) do not know whether the specialists treating them are qualified, according to a Mori study commissioned by the Health Professions Council (HPC).


The HPC is an independent regulator, which sets

national standards of professional training, performance and conduct for over 160,000 specialists across 13 health professions. It has launched its consumer protection campaign to highlight the importance of checking that your specialist is qualified and permitted by law to practise.

Some key findings from HPC’s National Check-up study:

  • Nearly half (48%) of under 25s have seen at least one health professional, rising steadily to 73% of 55-and-overs.

  • Over 30 million UK adults have been treated by at least one health professional in their lifetime, and over half (52%) of these have seen one in the last 12 months. HPC’s study reveals that the last time people saw a health professional, 29% of them did so without referral from their GP.

  • Amongst the most visited specialists, 1 in 3 people (33%) have visited a physiotherapist, 1 in 5 (20%) have seen a chiropodist or podiatrist (35% went direct rather than via referral), and 9% have seen a dietician.

HPC has launched a website, , where people can quickly check whether a health professional is registered, and find out more about what this means for them. To check HPC’s online register, people simply type in the name or registration number of the person they intend to see and their health profession, and the search will confirm their registration details.

Who HPC regulates

HPC currently regulates the following thirteen professions. Each of these professions has one or more ‘protected titles’ that must be registered. Anyone who uses one of these titles must register with the HPC.

  • Arts therapists

  • Biomedical scientists

  • Chiropodists and podiatrists

  • Clinical scientists

  • Dieticians

  • Occupational therapists

  • Operating department practitioners

  • Orthoptists

  • Paramedics

  • Physiotherapists

  • Prosthetists and orthotists

  • Radiographers

  • Speech and language therapists

What does the HPC do?


BMA A-Z Medical Encyclopedia

The HPC keeps a register of over 160,000 health professionals who meet its standards, and takes action if registered health professionals fall below those standards. The HPC has the power to revoke professionals’ right to practice- effectively ‘strike them off’ the register. The HPC was created by a piece of legislation called the Health Professions Order 2001.




What does the register tell me?

Health professionals are legally required to register with the HPC. Registration means that a health professional meets national standards for their professional training, performance and conduct. It means that people have proved that they meet the HPC’s standards and are therefore allowed to be registered with them and use a legally protected professional title such as 'chiropodist'.

There are clear standards laid out for each profession, which focus on the Council’s expectations of registrants’ skills, knowledge and understanding. These standards must be met by; new graduates; internationally-trained applicants; and those who want to return to practice.

What happens if you don't use a registered health professional?

If something should go wrong during your treatment, HPC will not be able to take action against that person, and therefore HPC will be unable to stop them treating other people.

Professional titles

Professional titles are protected by law. Anyone using a title such as Chiropodist or Physiotherapist must be registered with the Health Professions Council, or they may be subject to prosecution and a fine of up to ?5,000. If you use a health professional who is not registered, you risk being treated by someone who is not up to national standards.

Why might a professional not be appearing when you know they are registered?

This may be because they are registered under a slightly different name, for example someone may be William Smith on the register but go by the name Bill Smith in his practice. It may also be possible that they think they are on the register, but for some reason their registration may have lapsed. If in doubt, ‘phone or email HPC and they will check:  or 0845 3004 472.

Where does the HPC come from?

The Health Professions Order is the piece of legislation which states that registrants must be ‘of good health and character in order to practise’. The order also created ways to deal with registrants whose ability to practise safely is affected because of their health.


The HPC is run by an elected council made up of members of the professionals they regulate, plus members of the public. All professional members were elected by registrants and lay members were elected by the Privy Council.



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