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Why employers should respond to the consultation on proposed changes to HCPC’s English language requirements

01 Dec 2023
  • Registration
  • Lean and intelligent regulation

Tom Miller

Policy Manager

We are currently running a consultation on proposed changes to our requirements for English language proficiency.

The consultation will run until 19 January 2023, after which we will carry out analysis of the results and publish a final set of changes.

The proposed changes will apply to applicants using the international application route to join the HCPC Register. The changes would not affect individuals using the UK application route, applying for readmission, or returning to practice.

Our proposals will not change the level of English proficiency we expect from applicants but will change the types of evidence that applicants would be able to use to demonstrate them.

We are especially keen to hear from employers and managers of HCPC registrants in the consultation. Employers have direct experience of how the current English language proficiency arrangements are working and what sort of impact our proposals would have.

We want to ensure that any changes we ultimately make will strike the right balance between securing public protection and enabling the growth and diversity of the health and care workforce.

The four proposals in the consultation are:

  • Removing self-declaration of English as a first language
  • Introducing a qualifying countries list, where English is spoken by a strong majority; an applicant could take their primary qualification here and use this as evidence of proficiency
  • Expanding the list of English tests we accept in order to maximise choice, and potentially making the list exhaustive
  • Accepting evidence of previous registered work in a listed country, or previous work supervised in the UK by a registered health and care professional


Background to the proposals

Several factors have contributed to the timing of this review and the nature of the proposals it makes. Key amongst them are:

  1. The timing of the review follows updates that several other health and care regulators have made to their English language proficiency requirements in recent years.
  2. Health and care providers across the UK are increasingly relying on international recruitment to fill workforce vacancies. In England, this is a key element of the NHS Long Term Workforce Plan published in June 2023. The review and proposals are designed to support the future of this workforce.
  3. A key consideration in developing these proposals has been minimising impacts on the future workforce: ensuring we are not, for example, creating new costs or new testing requirements that are not necessary.
  4. Our proposals set out a plan for using open and objective measures to assess applicants’ proficiency in English. We want to ensure they have a wide set of options to demonstrate their proficiency, including either taking a test or citing certified work experience.

We will also use this review to ensure the system is robust, fair and easy to understand, and to ensure that applicants are supported where it is in our power to do so. This will be informed by data we gather from respondents about known or likely equalities impacts for both applicants and service users, as detailed in the Draft Equalities Impact Assessment that accompanies the consultation.

Previous engagement

We have been engaging with the public and stakeholder organisations over the past few months, to raise awareness and explain the rationale for consultation. Key groups include professional bodies, employer organisations, and the general public. We have also engaged directly with service users via focus groups undertaken with the Patients Association.

Hearing from employers

As an employer or manager of HCPC registrants, you’ll have a unique understanding of the skills that HCPC-registered staff need to practise safely and effectively. Your input is therefore vital in giving us insights into which proposals will work best.

We anticipate that employers’ feedback will be especially valuable regarding which aspects of English language proficiency should be measured via testing, and how those tests should be done.

Some of our proposals are about previous registration and work experience; employers’ feedback will help us assess whether these are useful suggestions and how they might be made to work effectively if so.

Employers’ views will also be vital to ensuring we strike a balance between, on one hand, setting robust requirements that ensure the public is protected, and on the other, allowing enough new registrants to join the UK’s health and care workforce to allow it to meet the population’s needs.

How to respond to the consultation

The easiest way to respond to our proposals is by using the online survey >

To find more detailed information about the proposals please read the consultation document >

Deadline for responses: 23:59 on 19 January 2024

Find out more

A live recording of an online webinar for employers and managers of HCPC registrants is below. This webinar covers the English language proficiency review consultation as well as upcoming changes to the standards of conduct, performance and ethics, following their recent review.

We are currently running a series of online webinars and engagement sessions, where you can learn more about the proposals and give informal feedback.

Click one of the event links below to join, or get in touch with the Policy team ( for information on joining the others:

Read the document and respond

Page updated on: 01/12/2023