There’s a bit of a hoo-ha in the healthcare sector at the moment, as the Society of Homeopaths are applying for PSA accreditation status, an option also under consideration by the NRCPD. This has caused some ire, with the number one reason for disgust being that homeopaths are not healthcare professionals (cf. PSA Standard 1) and “have no knowledge, training or practices that can diagnose or successfully treat illness” – just like interpreters don’t. It has also caused more medical professionals to notice and get peeved that acupuncturists and yoga therapists are already accredited as “health and social care workers”. Finally, as of today, we’re also seeing a PSA application from the Association of Christian Counsellors (ACC), whose members are associated with ex-gay and anti-gay “therapies” such as “reparative therapy”, also known as “prayer”. (Edited to add on 11/1/2014: it seems that ACC did very recently issue a statement which effectively prohibits its members from conducting or advertising this kind of “pray away the gay” therapy – perhaps the application for PSA status was a factor in finally taking this stand.)
While I do, naturally, rate interpreters as being more useful (not to mention hugely more professional) than homeopaths, I do wonder what the medical establishment’s reaction will be if NRCPD, who are supposed to be representing trained linguists who have it in their Code of Conduct that they don’t dispense their own (lack of) knowledge or views, ever do actually get round to applying.
NRCPD have issued a second set of FAQs in which they state that they have not actually had a response from the PSA about whether interpreters could possibly be defined as health and social care workers. If it had been me, I would have done that first, before I paid my current business partners to carry out a consultation (see the June 2013 NRCPD Board meeting minutes where disclosures of interest around the selection of Cassiopeia Consulting are listed, although these minutes were not actually published until December 2013, six months after the meeting took place and five months after the consultation was actually carried out).
The new FAQ also asserts that PSA accreditation is (somehow) a “step towards statutory regulation” and that it is intended to fulfil the same function as the existing Ministry of Justice agreement, that requires only registered professionals to be used by that sector, and that they would ask the PSA to recommend that only registered communication professionals are used. Compare and contrast these assertions with the PSA’s own FAQ where they state:
- that the PSA regulates only voluntary registers, not statutory ones;
- that it is “a matter of choice” whether healthcare workers are on a voluntary register or not, ie. that PSA accreditation does absolutely nothing to force healthcare providers to use members of PSA-accredited voluntary registers;
- that their requirements of their member voluntary registers “will enhance public protection but [do] not have the power to bar people from working in the same way that statutory regulation can”.
It is also worth noting that, as with the current Society of Homeopaths application, anyone can submit their views on the suitability of a particular register directly to the PSA in the course of its decision-making process around an application.