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19 December 2019
As the Christmas season and end of year approaches, we've been reflecting on a pivotal 10th anniversary year for NRCPD. But first though I want to express NRCPD's appreciation for the very important and hopefully rewarding work that our registered professionals undertake in every corner of the country and community, all year round and often in testing circumstances. You are highly thought of and can be proud of the profession you are in.
2019 has seen transformative change for the better in NRCPD. Our highest priority for 2019 was separation from Signature: we have decoupled all our processes and support from them, have a completely new and separate IT infrastructure and a full staff team. The final steps are a new accounting partner imminently and then a move to new offices in February 2020. At the same time we have implemented substantial improvements in how we work, reduced turnaround times for registration issues and approvals, and managed a greater volume of complaints as people gain confidence in our Complaints Procedure and process. A review of the CPD Policy was also completed this year with input from professional associations, and implementation will continue into 2020.
This has taken significant staff effort and with this major successes achieved, we can now dedicate more energy to other priorities.
We have recognised the challenges in the way the market for communications support works for everyone, particularly in the public sector. So NRCPD have spent a great deal of time this year reconnecting with public sector bodies such as the Ministry of Justice, NHS, Police and others, so we can help shape what they do in the future. We will extend that engagement significantly in 2020, alongside the acceleration of planned outreach events that began this year. With so much political time taken up with BREXIT, scope for engagement with Westminster has been limited. But we have had significant contact with the Scottish and Welsh governments on the importance of independent regulation in our sector, including contribution to the Landscape Review in Scotland.
On registration matters, we are making excellent progress with awarding bodies towards summer completion of remapping interpreting qualifications to the 2017 NOS, we will be looking at a new route to registration for Notetakers in 2020 and we will also hope to report progress on a new register for Deaf Relay Interpreters later in the year.
NRCPD have improved in our capacity and skill in prosecuting malpractice complaints and have learned a great deal too. Our lessons from 2019 will feed into the five-yearly review of the Complaints Process which has just begun with invitations to all the professional associations and NUBSLI to contribute.
Enforcement of our Code of Conduct through the investigation of complaints is an essential part of what we do and a duty we take very seriously. Most of the cases of malpractice in 2019 were dealt with by advice, guidance, mediation or supervision and this can be very effective in helping practitioners to develop and ensure that they meet the standards that we set. We prefer that complaints are dealt with as positive opportunities for practitioners to improve so we can support them in their development. Sometimes though the most severe penalty of being removed from the register is the only appropriate outcome. We take no joy in such circumstances, but we will undertake this solemn duty on behalf of our beneficiaries to make sure that if someone is found to be unfit to practice, we take the right action. We will continue to do this responsibly, in line with our published process and as per the civil law upon which our process is founded.
This is not the only way we can improve and promote the provision of the right communication support for D/deaf and Deafblind people. The best communication support depends as much on how many professionals there are that meet the standards, and where they operate, as it does on the standard itself. Whilst our overall register numbers continue to grow (we now have 1,580 people registered), the challenges of meeting demand in the public sector still tempt some to accept unregistered professionals for communication support. This is a deplorable situation driven by many factors: geographic disparities, poor agency administration, clients and organisations not understanding best practice and the absence of desirable working conditions. NRCPD recognises that if we are to fulfil our charitable purpose of the public protection of D/deaf and Deafblind people, we must ensure not only a professional standard to adhere to, but that we have 'healthy professions'. This means that there are enough professionals of the required standard, in the right places, and within a chosen profession that supports them through their career and engenders pride and status. We will work with the professional associations and many others to develop the ideas, ways and means to achieve this in the years ahead.
2020 will see our first year as being fully independent and in our new offices and so we wanted to extend our thanks to all of you who have played a part in getting us here. And to return again to where this message began: thanks to all those on our registers for their hard work this year and for furthering our cause of effective national regulation for the public protection of our beneficiaries. We wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.