Published: 22/08/2002, Volume II2, No. 5819 Page 7

Managers of therapy services could lose their professional registration when new rules on regulation come into effect.

Annual renewal of registration with the new Health Professions Council will need evidence of continuing professional development, crucial to ensuring practitioners keep their skills up to date.

At a public consultation meeting of allied health professionals in Salisbury last month, HPC president Professor Norma Brook said: 'We are here to protect the public and registration is given on the grounds of competence to practise... We are not interested in whether you are a good manager.'

Others who could be affected by the regulations include AHP teachers and researchers, though it is argued that it is good practice for teachers to spend some time working with patients.

Kamini Gadhok, chief executive of the Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists, said: 'HPC told us it was not interested in people who did not have direct patient contact - it is interested in protecting the public by saying that registrants are fit to practise.

'This is a real worry for anyone going from a managerial position back to working in the field.Under the leadership agenda, managers with a clinical background give added value by focusing on policy areas in a way that clinicians do not.

The issue needed clarification: 'You could do it in many ways - say, a manager having a day a week set aside for seeing patients or having designated patients.'

Sally Gosling, head of learning and development at the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy, said that the council must take an inclusive approach to the varied occupational roles fulfilled by AHPs. In a statement to HPC, presented during the consultation process, she said that managers, researchers and educators presented a public interest/safety issue.

'Managers have a responsibility to develop and oversee delivery of safe, efficient services; educators, to prepare future members of the professions for practice, and the researchers' responsibility [is] to undertake activity in an ethical, sensitive manner that can have a direct impact on patient care in future.'

Peter Burley, director of education and policy at the council, said: 'This is an important issue and we will be considering it carefully.'