I have been away from the profession and am thinking about returning to practice, what do I need to do?

The main requirement for returning to the profession is to gain HCPC registration again, the HCPC require anyone that has not been registered with them for 2 years or more to complete period of return-to-work evidencing.

This will consist of collecting a variety of evidence to prove how you have been ensuring that you have been trying to refresh your knowledge and skills.

You can download the HCPC’s information booklet on returning-to-practice through their website, but the basics behind their requirements are:

  1. If you have not been registered with the HCPC for between 2-5 years you will have to complete 30 days of return-to-work evidence
  2. If you have not been registered with the HCPC for over 5 years you will have to complete 60 days of return-to-work evidence

How do I evidence my return-to-work requirements for the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC)?

Evidencing the return-to-practice requirements should be done in 3 main ways:

  • Private study – this consists of reading articles/books, etc. and reflecting on how you will use what you have learnt in your future practice and to the benefit of your patients.
  • Professional study – attendance at courses or study days, including return-to-practice distance learning courses, CEN/Hub study days and other clinical courses.
  • Supervised practice – this is shadowing a speech therapist much like a student placement.

The only stipulation that the HCPC place on this is that no more than 50% of the time spent can be evidenced via private study with the remainder evidenced through either of the other two methods, or a combination of the two.

The RCSLT return to practice egroup may be useful to join as it is made up of people that are currently trying to get through the process as well as those that have recently completed it and may offer some useful advice/guidance. If you want to join, then do contact us and we can get you set up.

The RCSLT is also currently involved in a trial programme aimed at supporting allied health professionals back into their profession through the HCPC return to practice evidencing requirements in England.

The programme has links to voluntary and paid returner work, as well as links to courses etc. and is accessible to any speech therapists currently accessing the return-to-work process through the HCPC.

Health Education England

Health Education England (HEE) has issued the following guidance:

“The national programme for return to practice (RTP) supporting Allied Health Profession (AHP), Healthcare Scientists (HCS) and Social Workers (SW) to return to work is run by Health Education England (HEE). As part of the programme HEE will provide up to £1,300.00 per returnee to support their Return-to-Practice process. The payment will be proportional to the needs of the returnee and divided between the returnee and relevant supporting organisations clinical placement providers and universities). The programme covers all professional requiring registration with the Health Care Professions Council (HCPC) (AHP, HCS or Social Workers).

Monies will only be paid to returnees and any supporting organisation when the returnees have formally registered their interest with the HEE programme by completing the relevant proforma (Returnee Information Form) and the participating clinical placement provider agrees to support the returnee with a clinical placement. All parties’ must agree to provide the relevant information in a timely manner, to ensure relevant payments are authorised and paid.

HEE will pay all monies in line with costs agreed as part of the project. At no point should any party be delayed payments of due fees unless insufficient information has been provided in accordance with process. The amount paid to each party will be in accordance to any pre-arranged agreement between HEE and all participating third parties. Any monies claimed and not used are to be returned to HEE.”

The monies can be claimed for:

  • Academic support
  • Placement education
  • Out of pocket expenses

Find out more and get in contact with them

National Education Scotland

NHS Education for Scotland, through the AHP Practice Education Programme, is increasing the support and guidance available for people considering reregistering with the HCPC. If you are unsure of where to start, you can organise a career conversation with an advisor at ahp.practice.ed@nes.scot.nhs.uk

Another place to start looking if you want to arrange a period of Supervised Practice is the NHS Scotland Careers website. Whilst the focus is currently on recruiting people to NHS Scotland, the website does support returnees to all Sectors in Scotland.


How do I access supervised practice as part of my return to work requirements?

The national programme for return to practice is also able to link members up with therapists and organisations in their local area who are willing and able to help support supervised practice. You can contact them through the same link as above.

You may also want to approach your local NHS service or private therapists to enquire whether they have capacity to provide this type of support to help with the return-to-work requirements. NHS services can be accessed through the NHS Choices website.

Private or independent therapists can be searched using the Association for Speech and Language Therapists in Independent Practice (ASLTIP) website.

Are there any specific return-to-work courses which I could access?

Birmingham City University has designed a return to practice distance learning course based around the HCPC return-to-practice requirements and which accounts for approx. 15 days of the return-to-work requirements.

It provides a general overview of Speech Therapy as it is now and briefly touches on all aspects of the profession ie adult sector, paediatrics, acute etc. There may be other distance learning courses available so do check with the other SLT based universities for more info.

How do I access other professional courses which I can use towards my return to work requirements?

Courses are also advertised in the back of the Bulletin magazine regularly and this may be a useful place to look for appropriate learning opportunities (that will also count towards your return to work evidencing).

Can I join/rejoin the RCSLT while I am completing the return to work requirements?

You are able to join/rejoin the RCSLT straight away (this may be beneficial as members now are able to access over 1700 journal titles free through our website which may help with your private study element) and you would be added as a returner initially, this category would then change to full membership once you have completed the return to practice process and gained HCPC registration.

Please see our contact us for more information.

Case studies

The case studies below have been produced with input from members who have either returned to practice or supported speech and language therapists to return to practice. They discuss how they found the process including challenges and recommendations for anyone considering returning to practice or supporting someone to return.


Anne is a speech and language therapist that had left the profession for 12 years. Anne developed a strong desire to return to the profession during the pandemic but had never actually worked in the NHS. Anne began the return to practice process alongside working another job and looking after her children. The process took 2 years and included participation in the HEE leadership programme and attendance of the Birmingham City University course. Anne then returned to a band 5 role.


Ruth is a speech and language therapist that had been out of her role for 20 years. Ruth was a speech and language therapist for four and a half years but changed roles to work in the recruitment of Allied Health Professionals and then fundraising. The COVID-19 pandemic acted as a catalyst for Ruth to return to practice and she attended the Birmingham City University course. Following this, Ruth got a job as a band 5 speech and language therapist but quickly moved into a band 6 role. Ruth started off working with adults and children and now only works with children but found having a flexible approach helped her find roles and support the trusts.


Miriam is a lead at an early years service and recently went through the process of supporting two speech and language therapists return to practice. Of the two returnees, one had qualified 10 years prior but had never practiced, instead they got a job in a special school. The other had a family career gap but left at a highly specialist level. They joined as support workers using the NHS bank which encouraged a flexible approach, enabling the returnees to meet HCPC requirements, including the necessary clinical hours. By signing up using the bank, the returnees had the opportunity to try different clinical areas. After meeting the requirements to return to practice, both returnees successfully applied for full time speech language therapist roles when they became available in the service.

Miriam found the process extremely valuable, stating “it is a great investment to have someone who has got the experience that they bring, whether it is just life experience, or external experiences working for different organisations, not as a speech therapist, and then coming back that does bring a different angle, diversity to the table.”

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