top of page
Adults'
All features
Training
Children's

Organisations call on Social Work England to resolve fitness to practice delays

BASW, SWU & UNISON have jointly written to the social work regulator to seek an ‘urgent resolution’ to ongoing fitness to practise delays.

07/05/24

Organisations call on Social Work England to resolve fitness to practice delays

Three organisations representing social workers have written to the regulator demanding action to resolve delays to fitness to practise hearings.

To be a social worker in England, a person must be registered with the body and deemed to be ‘fit to practise’ safely and effectively. A fitness to practise hearing may follow a report of concern about a social worker’s ability to practise effectively, after an investigation and examination of the case.

However, with some current cases pending a final hearing for multiple years, the professional association for social workers and two unions say they are concerned that social workers are often being punished by delays to these hearings by losing their income, adding that there is an ‘inequality of arms’ in the legal processes.

“The consequence for a registrant social worker can be very grave. Ultimately, they can face suspension from the register for a period of time or permanent erasure. This means that these social workers are not allowed to practise as social workers, losing their earning capacity,” the organisations said in a statement.

“All of us would want any social worker whose fitness to [practice] was impaired and potentially a risk to the public to be prevented from practising, but those decisions should be made after a relatively speedy process in which registrants are properly enabled to defend allegations made against them. This, however, is far from the case.”

Colin Anderson, A&R Service Manager for BASW/SWU, said fitness to practise can be a complex process taking time to complete, but that delays are currently unreasonable and interfering with fairness and justice.

“It is BASW, SWU and Unison’s view that far too frequently we witness delays that are well beyond any notion of ‘reasonableness’ and is now disproportionately impacting upon social workers.

"We believe this is made far worse by a basic and intrinsic unfairness in the process and by an apparent unwillingness on the part of the regulator to review their approach other than to call for greater resources to do more of the same.”

Responding to the statement, Colum Conway, Chief Executive of Social Work England, said the regulator agrees that the current delays are ‘unacceptable’ and has said so publicly on a number of occasions.

“We recognise the effect that delays have on all parties involved, including those social workers being investigated. We have a support process in place that we use when we have serious concerns about the wellbeing of a social worker (or any other party to the case) and we keep this process under review. In addition, we consider any serious concerns relating to the social worker’s health when we prioritise cases that have been referred for a hearing.”

Social Work England, which has been the specialist regulator for social workers in England since 2019, says it has received a more than 30% increase in concerns raised than was anticipated during the planning for its establishment, and that this was coupled with several complex cases from its predecessor: the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC).

“Whilst we were able to use additional funding to resolve the cases received from the HCPC, it is clear to us that our ongoing resourcing is insufficient to deal with the new cases referred for, and awaiting a hearing,” Conway continued, adding: “We have made a number of proactive changes to how we work, and to our legal framework, to assist in our continuing focus on efficient fitness to practise processes. These changes have had a demonstrable positive impact.”

Paint on Face

Gloucestershire County Council

Deputy Team Manager

Job of the week

Sign up for an informal interview for this role today

£45,441 - £48,474

SWT_SideAd1.png

Featured event

Social World Podcast

Podcast

30 Jan 2024

Instant access

Featured jobs

Barnardo's

Supervising Social Worker

Midlands Partnership NHS Foundation Trust

Health and Justice Court Practitioner - Social Worker/AHP

SWT_Online_Events_ad.png

Most popular articles today

Parents in substance use services need better care integration, research finds

Parents in substance use services need better care integration, research finds

Reflective supervision ‘best practice guide’ launches in Edinburgh

Reflective supervision ‘best practice guide’ launches in Edinburgh

First trial of new suicide prevention intervention designed for autistic people

First trial of new suicide prevention intervention designed for autistic people

Housing scheme for adults with learning disabilities to be adapted for care leavers

Housing scheme for adults with learning disabilities to be adapted for care leavers

Sponsored Content

What's new today:

Supporting social work students with additional needs during their placement

bottom of page