Social workers involved in most HCPC cases

HCPC regulates 16 professions but social workers are involved in 54% of all conduct cases

Published on 25th November 2017

The vast majority of Fitness to Practise cases referred to the Health and Care Profession Council involved social workers, the regulator’s annual report has revealed.

The Health and Care Professions Council regulates 16 different professions yet 54% of all conduct hearings involved social workers, the Fitness to Practise annual report shows.

The regulator carried out research earlier this year to investigate why social workers and paramedics are overly represented in FtP cases. The research found that employers were referring concerns to the HCPC as a way of maintaining public credibility, and protecting themselves from blame by ensuring ‘misconduct’ or ‘incompetence’ is seen to be dealt with at an individual level.

Yet the latest report shows that social workers are still disproportionately represented in Fitness to Practise cases.

The number of individuals on the register in 2016-17 increased by 2.5% while the number of new fitness to practise concerns received by the HCPC rose by 6.2% from 2,127 concerns in 2015-16 to 2,259 in 2016-17.

The proportion of the Register affected still remains low, with only 0.64 per cent of registrants (or one in 164) being subject to a new concern in 2016–17.

Members of the public continue to be the largest complainant group, making up 41 per cent of the total number of concerns raised this year.

Employers continue to be the second largest source of concerns, raising 26 per cent of the concerns. There has been an increase in self-referrals from professionals on the register from 353 in 2014-15 to 462 in 2016–17.

There were 1,226 cases involving social workers between 1 April 2016 and 31 March 2017, which is 54% of all cases. It also means 26% of social workers on the register were involved in FtP cases.

“There is a wide range of variation in these patterns of referral,” said the report. “For instance, social workers are the largest profession on the Register, and have the most concerns raised. This profession also has the largest number of cases that are raised by members of the public. 62.6 per cent of the cases received in relation to social workers were received from members of the public.

“However, this profession has the largest number of cases that are closed because the concerns did not meet the Standard of Acceptance,” the report adds.

The report added that 445 final hearing cases were concluded in 2016–17, which is 125 more cases than the previous year. Of those, 432 were heard by the Conduct and Competence Committee and 13 were held by the health committee.

Of the 445 final hearings, 208 involved social workers. The report highlights that:

  • 41 social workers were struck off
  • 51 were suspended
  • 21 had conditions of practice
  • 17 were cautioned

Of all the hearings including all professions, the most common sanction was a suspension in 115 cases, followed by a striking off order in 92 cases.

In almost half of all cases regarding all professions, the registrant was not present at the hearing.

The report covered the period 1 April 2016 to 31 March 2017.

Fitness to Practise report 2017


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