UNISON has slammed a 12.5 per cent proposed fee increase for professionals covered by the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) branding the move a breach of trust.
In its consultation response published today (Wednesday), UNISON has accused the regulator of ‘exploiting the stranglehold it has over registrants’ livelihoods’.
The union has also released a survey that shows an overwhelming 97 per cent of workers do not support the 12.5 per cent fee increase – which raises the fee to £90 a year.
This proposed increased comes hot on the heels of the 5 per cent increase the HCPC implemented in April 2014. And this is despite a commitment from the regulator that fees would not be reviewed for two years.
An occupational therapist said the HCPC “has not acted with integrity and kept to its words regarding fee increases.”
Another one said: “I cannot afford an unplanned increase. Our salaries have only gone up one percent in several years. I don’t see how a 5 per cent rise and another 12.5 per cent can be justified by anyone at this time.”
A social worker described the registration fee as ‘paying for a stick but there’s no carrot’. And a paramedic said that ‘there is still a real terms public sector pay freeze which just confirms HCPC are not in touch with registrants’ needs’
UNISON head of health Christina McAnea said: “The rise in fees is unacceptable and a slap in the face for the thousands of paramedics, radiographers, physios, occupational therapists, and social workers who were told the cost of their registration would not go up for two years.
“Workers feel betrayed and this move could jeopardise the trust and confidence they have in the regulator. If the regulator exists for public protection then it seems ludicrous for it to put its relationship with professionals at risk.
“The government has stood by and allowed an unaccountable regulator to take advantage and pile on extra increases knowing these professionals have no choice but to pay this fee to practise.
“We are calling on HCPC to halt its rushed and unreasonable plan. We also want proof that it has done everything to bring down its costs particularly when it comes to expensive inappropriate referrals and unnecessary hearings.”
UNISON urges professionals regulated by the HCPC to respond to the consultation – which closes today (Wednesday) – and reject the fee increase.
HCPC claims to have been forced to review fees early because of a government move to introduce a levy to fund HCPC’s governing body – the Professional Standard Authority (PSA).
The government stopped funding the PSA knowing the cost would be passed on straight on to health and social care professionals. However HCPC has taken it much further as only £3 of the proposed £10 increase is for the levy, while 70 per cent of it is for ‘other purposes’.