Removing social workers from register is ‘last resort measure’

Just 0.62% of all HCPC registrants were involved in Fitness to Practise process

Published on 24th March 2017

Removing social workers from the Health and Care Professions Council register is a last resort measure, the regulator has stated.

Many cases where complaints are made about social workers do not even reach the Fitness to Practise hearing stage, Jonathan Jones, stakeholder communications manager at the HCPC told the Locum Today event in Birmingham.

The HCPC regulates 16 professions including occupational therapists, paramedics and social workers in England – which is the largest professional group regulated by the HCPC.

There are 345,000 registrants on the HCPC register and 90,000 are social workers in England.

According to the HCPC annual report in 2015 when there were 342,000 registrants on the register, just 0.62% were involved in Fitness to Practise process. There were 2,127 cases of which 846 went before a hearing and 69 professionals were struck off.

“We exist to protect the public,” said Jones. “If something goes wrong or where there are concerns we can investigate and where necessary we can remove individuals from the register. However this is a last ditch option and there are a range of other sanctions available to the Fitness to Practise hearing panels.”

Sanctions include: take no further action, mediation, caution the registrant, conditions of practice order, suspend the registrant from practicing and strike their name from our register, which means they cannot practise.

Of the cases heard in 2015-2016, 76% were related to the conduct or behaviour of a registrant whereas 19% of cases were due to competence.

The most common cases are around dishonesty or theft from service users, boundary violations or breaches of confidentiality, Jones explained.

He added that the public perception of the HCPC is that they are there to ‘strike people off the register,’ however, aside from the Fitness to Practise work, the regulator is also involved in setting standards around education and training, conduct and performance, knowledge and skills and CPD.

There are proposals in the Children and Social Work Bill to introduce a new regulator for the social work profession. The Bill has yet to receive Royal Assent and optimistic estimations would be that a new regulator would be up and running by 2018. Jones concluded that for now it is “business as usual” for the HCPC.


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