More on the UKCP suspension. UKCP implies it’s routine, PSA says it’s not

There’s been a few responses since I noticed a snippet on the Professional Standards Authority website, saying that the UK Council for Psychotherapy has had its accreditation suspended, pending further improvements that the PSA requires. The UKCP have issued a statement, which depicts the suspension as a relatively routine aspect of renewing their accreditation. However, enquiries made by a therapist raise question marks about just how routine it supposedly is.

After I put up a blog post commenting on the news, the UKCP posted an update on their website.

Some of you may have seen reports about the accreditation of our register by the Professional Standards Authority (the Authority).

We are currently renewing the accreditation of our register with the Authority – a process which is carried out annually.

The Authority’s Accreditation Panel has asked us to look at a number of points in our submission which impact on our meeting all their standards.

The Authority has requested that we make a small number of changes to our Complaints and Conduct Process. For example, that UKCP should not be able to appeal an unduly severe sanction, the length of time that sanctions are made public and that communications to complainants should be clearer.

We are positively engaging with the Authority and are making changes to our submission to clarify a number of points and provide further evidence to the Panel that we have addressed their concerns. We are resubmitting our renewal documents on Tuesday, 5 January 2016. The Authority will then convene its Accreditation Panel. 07/01/16: We can confirm that we have resubmitted the relevant documents and are waiting to hear when the panel will be meeting to discuss this further.

During this renewal process, UKCP members may still use the Authority’s accredited registers mark.

We successfully applied to the Accredited Registers Programme in 2013 and Authority reaccredited our register last year.

Janet Weisz, UKCP Chair said: ‘UKCP is committed to protecting the public and upholding high standards in psychotherapy training and practice. We are confident in the robustness of our complaints procedures and our register. We are working with the Authority to address its concerns.’

Interestingly, nowhere in the UKCP statement is there any use of the word “suspended”. It reads like something routine. Nothing to see here, just us going through the necessary steps to renew our accreditation.

Following this statement, the Professional Standards Authority was contacted by Graham Prince, a Bristol-based sex therapist. He describes their response on his blog.

Enquiries by have confirmed that the suspension did result from UKCP’s annual review application. However, the PSA stated that UKCP’s suspension is “not routine” and added that this is the first time it has had to take the step of suspending a register’s accreditation. The decision is clearly extraordinary and UKCP has the dubious honour of being the first UK psychotherapy body since registration was introduced to have its accreditation suspended. The PSA would not comment on the statement issued by UKCP.

Rather than a matter of minor tweaks to the UKCP’s accreditation, the PSA’s concerns about the standards operating at UKCP were such that it was deemed not to meet two key standards in the PSA’s Standards for Accredited Registers:

  1. Standard 2: the organisation demonstrates that it is committed to protecting the public and promoting public confidence in the occupation it registers.

The PSA has not made public exactly how UKCP has fallen short. However, to meet this standard an organsiation need “to demonstrate that its purpose and directives are focused on public protection, that in carrying out its voluntary register functions public interest is paramount and that professional interests do not dominate or unintentionally subvert that interest”.

  1. Standard 5: the organisation demonstrates that it has the capacity to inspire confidence in its ability to manage the register effectively.

Factors the PSA will take into account in making a judgement on an organisation’s ability to meet this standard include its “leadership, its reputation within and outside its field, the skills and experience of those involved in its voluntary register functions, its operational efficiency and its openness

I’m not entirely surprised, to be honest. The reassuring tone of the UKCP statement never seemed to quite gel with the tone of the PSA’s notice, which made it clear they were “not satisfied” that the UKCP is upholding the required standards.

What happens next is anybody’s guess. I don’t have any inside information, but my gut feeling is that the required changes will be made and the UKCP will then get their accreditation back. It’s simply too important for them to do anything other than bust a gut to get everything up to standard quickly, as anything  else would be disastrous both for the organisation and its membership.

That said, this should serve as a warning not only to the UKCP but also to some of the other accredited registers. Without naming any names, I’ve heard reports of people dissatisfied with the handling of a complaint by some psychotherapy registers besides the UKCP. Those other registers may wish to take note. The UKCP may be the first accredited register to face suspension by the PSA, but I’m far from convinced they’ll be the last.

10 thoughts on “More on the UKCP suspension. UKCP implies it’s routine, PSA says it’s not

  1. Like I said before somewhere on this blog (and I will write about it on my blog in more detail from a psycho-analytic view once I get more time)

    The members make the group, as in any group.

    Unfortunately for us the public, many of the psychoanalytic therapists I have come across and worked with have deep narcissistic wounds which is now reflected in the notice to the public.
    We can now openly see the lies we are being told by people who are supposed to be transparent and protecting us, the public.

    A “senior” analyst once told me (after I called around to find help for myself and my analyst at the time as the analysis was breaking down) that “only a hand full of therapists here in the UK are worth their salt”
    And I am in agreement.

    I would love to know who complained to the PSA about UKCP…. the last hearing against a UKCP member, if I am not mistaken, was against Valerie Sinason.

    Phil, if you have any more details about this hearing please write about it. Thank you for all your work.

  2. That’s a lovely bit of spin on the part of the UKPC, what they are omitting to say is that the PSA has been asking them to make this “small number of changes” for over two years. The PSA has suspended the accreditation of the UKPC’s register because it has become routine for the PSA to ask the UKPC to make these changes when it should have been a one-off request.

    One thing I’d say to anyone on any accredited register is make sure you read the assessment reports on the PSA’s website for your professional body. The PSA is there to protect the public from professionals, it won’t protect professionals from the body they choose to register with, so professionals need to look after themselves.

  3. I heard the UKCP do not allow appeals. So when a complaint has been dismissed the complainant has no chance to appeal?!

    • That’s the standard way of dealing with this type of thing. If a complainant doesn’t like the decision they can petition the organisation to look at it again but the organisation is under no obligation to reopen the case. This is also the case with the BACP, for example, where you can raise it with the CEO who’s decision on the matter is considered final. It’s much the same in criminal law, alleged victims do not have to right to appeal court verdicts.

      Can you give us an example of an organisation which gives the complainant a right to appeal?

      If the complainant doesn’t think that their complaint about a registrant has been handled correctly they can complain about the UKCP to the PSA. The PSA won’t review the decision directly but they will look at how the decision to dismiss the case was reached; if there is a problem with the way the complaint was handled they can’t overrule the UKCP’s decision but they can order that the UKCP consider it again and do things properly this time on pain of losing their register’s accredited status.

      • It may be worth noting that for the NMC (my own regulator) the PSA review all substantive fitness to practice outcomes, and if they feel a decision is unduly lenient they can refer it to the High Court. Likewise if the nurse or midwife appeals the outcome it goes to the High Court rather than back to the NMC.

      • I dont think this is entirely the case Patrick. I know that the BPC and BACP have an appeal procedure in which the complainant or registrant can appeal against a decision concerning complaints.

        That is why I am so shocked that the UKCP has no appeals procedure. Apparently, they have now been told to change that?

  4. Phil, I have heard that solicitors dont usually touch a client-therapist case if the complaint has been dismissed by the governing body.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s