New study suggests that people could be putting their health at risk by failing to check the credentials of physiotherapists, chiropodists, dieticians and other health professionals.
The survey of more than 2,100 adults in the UK conducted by the Health Professions Council (HPC), found that about 81% of people who had used the services of a health professional were oblivious to whether they were properly qualified to do their job, and that many adults see health professionals such as such as physiotherapists and dietitians without a GP referral.
The growing trend for patients to go directly to health specialists, rather than being referred by a doctor, means people are putting their health at greater risk if they do not check the qualifications of the person treating them.
A new campaign, which aims to emphasize the importance of checking that specialists are qualified and permitted to practice by law, has been launched by the independent regulator, which sets national standards for training and conduct across 13 health professions.
The HPC covers professions including dieticians, physiotherapists, chiropodists, speech and language therapists and occupational therapists, but not doctors and nurses.
The HPC has launched a web-based register, www.HPCheck.org, where people can check if a health professional is registered. To use the online register, the patient needs to type the name or registration number, and profession, of the person it is intended to see to confirm the registration details.
According to HPC chief executive, Mark Seale, although we check the credentials of people who carry out work on our cars and houses we tend to neglect the need for the same in healthcare, risking our health in the process. Imploring people to check the qualifications of their health professionals, he adds, 'Registration is a legal requirement, so if their name's not down, don't go in.'
The idea is make people understand the importance of being vigilant and check specialists such as physios and dietitians for their qualifications before going ahead with treatment.