Regulation of Public Health Professionals

Closed 14 Nov 2014

Opened 4 Sep 2014


This consultation document sets out proposals for statutory regulation, through the Department's preferred regulator, the Health and Care Professional Council (HCPC), of qualified public health specialists[1] working in public health. The Government has subsequently committed to legislate to ensure that all public health specialists are appropriately regulated. 

People have raised concerns about the length of this consultation and the issues it addresses. In particular there are concerns about which organisation should be the regulator.


We have therefore decided to extend the consultation period by an extra 4 weeks, making it a 10 week consultation and now closing on 14th November.


We have also added two questions to the consultation. The new questions are:


Question 1. Do you agree with the Department’s decision that the HCPC should be the statutory regulator for public health specialists from backgrounds other than medicine or dentistry  If not, who and why?


Question 2. Do you think that public health specialists should be regulated by another body? If so, who and why?


[1] For the purposes of this consultation,  qualified public health specialists refers to specialists from backgrounds other than medicine and dentistry.

Why We Are Consulting

In January 2012, following the agreement of Health Ministers in the Devolved Administrations, the UK Government announced that public health specialists from backgrounds other than medicine and dentistry should be regulated by the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC).  Public health specialists can currently register on a voluntary basis with the UK Public Health Register (UKPHR)[1] .  Those who are medical practitioners or dentists with a specialty in public health medicine and public dental health are already required to register with the General Medical Council (GMC) or the General Dental Council (GDC) but can also register voluntarily with the UKPHR as public health specialists.


The HCPC currently regulates 15 different health professions across the UK and in England only, it also regulates social workers. It sets standards of education, performance and conduct, and can initiate as appropriate fitness to practise proceedings against registrants.


The consultation document sets out the reasons why the Government’s preferred regulator for  this group is  the HCPC and asks some specific questions about the draft Section 60 Order which will amend the Health and Social Work  Professions Order 2001 to statutorily regulate public health specialists by this means. The draft Order attached sets out proposals for the statutory regulation of public health specialists. It is made under powers in Section 60 of, and Schedule 3 to, the Health Act 1999, as amended. Under these provisions, legislation by means of an Order in Council, can be made in relation to the regulation of new healthcare professions. 

The issues on which we are seeking views are: 


  • Whether the HCPC is the right organisation to regulate public health specialists from backgrounds other than medicine or dentistry (para 2.11) or whether this should be done by another body
  • whether outstanding UKPHR fitness to practise cases at the time of transfer should be investigated and determined by the HCPC under the HCPC’s rules (para 3.6)
  • a grandparenting period of two years to allow non-medical public health specialists who  are not registered or eligible to be registered with the UKPHR to apply for registration. (para 3.8)
  • protection of the title ”public health specialist” for those registered by the HCPC (para 3.19)
  • whether the defined specialist category should be retained (para 3.22)
  • the impact of public health specialists from a non-medical or dental background being required to register with the HCPC and the consequences this might have for those registered with a professional body other than the HCPC
  • changes to the governance arrangements of the HCPC to take account of recent court rulings (para 3.31)

[1] A private company limited by guarantee. Company No.4776439





What Happens Next

A summary of the response to this consultation will be made available before or alongside any further action, such as laying legislation before Parliament, and will be placed on the Consultations website at

Consultation response

The consultation response will be published soon.The response will outline how the responses to the consultation have been taken account of in the production of the final regulations to be laid before Parliament. Parliament will have the opportunity to debate the regulations within 40 days if it chooses, and may vote to annul them as a result. If they are not annulled, they will come into force on a date specified in the regulations.


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