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Consultation on English language proficiency

Download the consultation document


Dydd Llun 16 Hydref, 2023 , Dydd Gwener 19 Ionawr, 2024




Communicating effectively in English is a key part of safe and effective practice for the professionals on our Register.

We ask applicants who use our international route to provide evidence of their English language proficiency before allowing them to join our register. We have launched a consultation on proposals that would change the types of evidence we accept, providing new options for applicants, and we would like to hear back from as many stakeholders as possible.

We want to:

  • continue to ensure that our approach to English language is robust, fair and clear, and that applicants can practise safely and effectively once they join our Register;
  • provide confidence to the public, employers and other stakeholders in HCPC’s processes;
  • establish clear criteria in the evidence we accept to demonstrate proficiency;
  • provide clarity for international applicants; and
  • ensure proportionality by avoiding adding any unnecessary additional burdens or obstacles to our international application route, or undue delays in processing.

The proposals were developed following an internal review of our current processes and feedback from stakeholders as part of our pre-consultation engagement.

We have also looked closely at the processes followed by other UK regulators to see where we can use similar approaches.


Our proposals

Our proposals would:

  • move away from allowing international applicants with English as a first language to make a self-declaration as standalone evidence of English proficiency;
  • replace self-declaration with a list of majority English-speaking countries. To show proficiency, applicants could provide evidence to demonstrate they completed their primary qualification in a listed country, as long as the qualification was delivered in English.
  • lengthen our list of approved English tests, but make that list exhaustive; and
  • broaden the evidence we accept by allowing international applicants to show that they have previously been regulated in a majority English-speaking country, or that they have relevant UK work experience supervised by a registered professional.

We believe that the proposals strike the right balance between ensuring that the evidence we accept is reliable, while also creating new ways for international applicants to demonstrate their ability to work safely and effectively in English.

The changes would bring our system into greater alignment with similar regulators in health and social care, provide a greater range of options to applicants, and increase clarity by having clear and objective requirements to evidence proficiency.

We have produced an Equality Impact Assessment (EIA) for our proposals, identifying positive and negative impacts for different groups. We have tried to mitigate negative impacts by suggesting more choice over how applicants evidence their proficiency.  

Whilst the consultation is ongoing, it is essential that we hear from as many individuals and stakeholders as possible. Your feedback will help us to refine our proposals before a final set of changes are agreed and published, and help ensure that our reviewed requirements are robust, fair and clear.


Upcoming webinars 

During the consultation period we will carry out engagement with service users and the public, people joining the UK workforce, employers, professional bodies and trade unions, educators and English test providers.

We will also host webinars to discuss the proposed revisions.

Related events:

  • Watch recording – Wednesday 8 November – Public webinar
  • Watch recording – Tuesday 21 November – Webinar for employers (joint with Standards of conduct, performance and ethics)
  • Watch recording – Wednesday 29 November – Public webinar
  • Register now – Thursday 11 January, 6pm – 7.30pm – Public webinar


How to respond

The questions we are asking are set out in the consultation document.

We would encourage you to read the background information set out in the below documents before you answer these questions.

The consultation is open from Monday 16 October, 2023 to Friday 19 January, 2024.

Have your say >

If you are unable to respond using the online platform, or would like a version in Welsh or in an alternative format, please email or write to:

Consultation on standards of conduct, performance and ethics
Policy and Standards Department
Health and Care Professions Council,
Park House, 184-186 Kennington Park Road
London, SE11 4BU