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Returning to an AHP career

Are you a qualified allied health professional who wants to return to a career in the NHS? Find out how to re-register with the Health and Care Professions Council and return to practice.

Take the next step in your journey, and come back to us.

Eligibility for the return to practice process

You must be a qualified AHP to apply for re-registration with the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) and meet one of the following criteria:

  • previous registration with the HCPC but out of practice for more than 2 years
  • registered with the HCPC for more than 2 years but not practised and consider yourself to be out of practice

In addition, you must not be subject to any fitness-to-practice proceedings with the HCPC.

Find out more about the process of re-registration and the requirements for returning.

Requirements for returning to practice

The HCPC defines a returnee to practice as an individual who has not practised for more than 2 years. Depending on the amount of time that has passed since you last practised, you may have to update your skills.

The requirements for returning to practice are:

  • 2 to 5 years out of practice – 30 days of updating your skills and knowledge
  • 5 or more years out of practice – 60 days of updating your skills and knowledge

For this process, a day is classed as 7 hours. You'll have 24 months to complete the re-registration process.

The return to practice process varies between professions. Your professional body will let you know the specific requirements for your profession. View a list of AHP professional bodies.

Updating your skills and knowledge

The process of returning to practice is managed and designed by you using HCPC guidance. Please familiarise yourself with the HCPC requirements for updating your knowledge and skills. Choose activities that suit your needs and the area where you hope to work.

There are 3 separate ways to update your knowledge and skills:

  • supervised practice - practising under the supervision of a registered practitioner of the same professional group
  • formal study - structured learning provided by a person or organisation
  • private study - learning structured by the returnee, including websites, library books and journals

It is important to remember that no more than half your days can be private study.

Applying for supervised practice

If you're eligible to return to practice, you can apply for a period of supervised practice with your chosen Health Board.

Read NHS Education for Scotland's guidance for arranging supervised practice.

To get started, you'll need to:

  • contact your desired Health Board and send them a completed supervised practice request form
  • meet with your Health Board's return to practice team so that they can check your documents and discuss the process with you
  • confirm your return to practice with your Health Board who will assign you a supervisor

If you have any questions at any stage, your Health Board team will be available to support you.

If you're ready to return to your career as an AHP, contact your local Health Board.

NHS Ayrshire and Arran

AHP Practice Education team -

NHS Borders

NES AHP Practice Education team -

NHS Dumfries and Galloway

AHP Education team -

NHS Fife

Margaret Braid -

NHS Forth Valley

AHP Practice Education team -

NHS Grampian

Return to practice team -

NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde

AHP Practice Education team -

NHS Highland

AHP Practice Education team -

NHS Lanarkshire

AHP Practice Development team -

NHS Lothian

AHP Practice Education team -

NHS Orkney

Gina McMahon -

NHS Shetland

AHP Practice Education team -

NHS Tayside

AHP Practice Education team -

NHS Western Isles

Laura O'Halloran -

Before your supervised practice can be confirmed, you'll need to provide various information requested by the Health Board. This will include:

  • proof of identity
  • evidence of your professional qualification
  • a letter from the HCPC stating when you left the register and any previous fitness to practise issues you may have had
  • a professional reference, if available

All of the required forms will be provided by the Health Board.

In the return to practice process, you're not being assessed on your competency. The process is led by you, the returnee. Your supervisor is there to support you and sign off that you have done the required amount of supervised practice.

You should make sure that you:

  • meet with your supervisor at the start to discuss your learning needs and what you hope to achieve during supervised practice
  • agree on a learning plan with your supervisor
  • adapt your learning needs during the period of supervised practice
  • develop a portfolio to demonstrate your learning and development

You must also make a professional decision as to whether the period of supervised practice undertaken has been enough to allow you to practise safely and effectively.

Your supervisor is there to support you and confirm that you've completed the required number of hours of supervised practice. They're not there to assess your fitness to practice, that's your responsibility.

However, your supervisor will:

  • assist you to identify the skills and knowledge you need to update
  • arrange for you to receive the support and access you need
  • make sure that colleagues in the team you're working in are aware of your role so that you're properly supported

Your supervisor will also sign off your paperwork to show you have completed your supervised practice.

As a qualified allied health professional, you can see patients. Return to practice is your opportunity to refresh your skills, not start from scratch.

Once you've re-registered with the HCPC, you can apply for any roles that you feel you have the skills and knowledge for. You do not have to start at a lower band position.

Step back into your AHP career

If you're a qualified allied health professional who wants to return to practice, contact your NHSScotland Health Board.

NHS Education for Scotland's practice education team can also provide help and support -

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Arranging supervised practice

Arranging supervised practice

NHS Education for Scotland's return to practice guidance will help you with the supervised practice process.

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Natalie's story

After living abroad, Natalie returned to her NHS career as a physiotherapist. Learn more about her journey.

View case study