With still over a month to go before it is due to close, the Government petition for the Statutory Regulation of Sports Therapists has now passed the 10,000 mark. This is the point at which the Westminster Government is supposed to take note of the petition and comment on it. The Society of Sports Therapists is, therefore, somewhat disappointed to see that, what can only be described as a pre-prepared statement from the Department of Health, has already been placed on the petition site, even though there is still over a month to go and the number of signatures continues to increase. This course of action does not appear to have happened on other petitions that have reached the 10,000 mark.
The statement from the Department of Health once again recommends Voluntary Regulation as the suggested route for Sports Therapists, even though the petition is clearly seeking Statutory Regulation, as recommended by the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) and recently reaffirmed by that organisation. Consequently, The Society of Sports Therapists feels that the response from a department rather than the Government is not only disappointing but disingenuous.
Voluntary Regulation does not protect the public. With Statutory Regulation, there is one register, which is centrally overseen by a Government appointed organisation. It is also the register that practitioners must be on, in order to work under a specific occupational title. Consequently, you could not work under the occupational title of Sports Therapist if you were not on this register. With Voluntary Regulation there can be more than one register, run by various organisations whose ability to simply administer these registers is what receives the recognition. Practitioners do not have to be on any register to work under an occupational title and, as such, more worryingly, are not being regulated.
Therefore, whilst Voluntary Regulation may work for those organisations that are looking for some degree of recognition but do not meet the criteria to apply for Statutory Regulation, it does not work for those professions with practitioners who have the potential to cause harm to their patients, both physically and psychologically. This is a major factor for the recommendation of any profession to be statutorily regulated.
The Society of Sports Therapists is still committed to the principle of, and belief in, the Statutory Regulation of Sports Therapists. The HCPC agrees with this and has recommended it, not just once but on several occasions. A Parliamentary Health Select Committee has also received additional evidence to reaffirm the recommendation and over 10,000 people from all over the UK have supported the need by signing the petition.
On behalf of The Society of Sports Therapists, I would like to thank everyone who has taken the time to sign the petition. I would also request that the momentum does not stop until the closing date (29th Jan). Therefore, if you know of anyone who has not signed the petition as yet, please encourage them to do so. The larger the number of signatures, the greater the evidence of support that we have.
In the meantime, The Society of Sports Therapists will continue to lobby both actively and aggressively for Statutory Regulation and ensure that it receives a response from the Government and not one of its departments.
Professor Graham N. Smith
For and on behalf of The Society of Sports Therapists