We handle cases where social workers are being investigated by the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) and the the Care Council for Wales (CCFW).
The Regulatory Process (England)
The Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) took over responsibility for the regulation of social workers in England with effect from the 1st August 2012, from the General Social Care Council (GSCC).
The disciplinary process that the HCPC has adopted is as follows:-
- Investigation - once a fitness to practice concern has been raised with the HCPC, an investigation is carried out by a case manager. The social worker is notified, and has 28 days to formally respond to the allegations. The case manager then passes the matter on to a panel within the investigating committee to determine whether there is a case to answer. Should the panel decide that there is a case to answer, then the matter is set down for a formal hearing. Solicitors then prepare the case for a hearing on behalf of the HCPC
- Hearing - the case will be prepared for the hearing by solicitors on behalf of the HCPC. The matter will either be heard by a panel of the Conduct and Competence Committee (for cases relating to convictions or cautions, determinations by another regulator, misconduct, lack of competence, and decisions on barring a professional), or a panel of the Health Committee (for cases where it is felt that the health of the social worker is adversely affecting their decision making ability), or another panel of the Investigating Committee (for cases relating to fraudulent or incorrect registration). Witnesses can be called and evidence produced by both sides, and the social worker will be given a full opportunity to make representations and present evidence in their defence. The HCPC case will be overseen by a presenting officer, who is usually a solicitor
- Decision and sanctions - should the HCPC panel determine that the case against the social worker has been proved on the balance of probabilities, then the following sanctions are available to the panel: take no further action, or order mediation to determine whether a solution can be agreed, or caution the social worker (where a warning would be placed on their registration details for between 1 - 5 years), or place practice conditions on the social worker, or suspend the social worker from practising, or strike the social worker off the Register (which would prevent the social worker from practising)
- Appeal - the social worker can appeal the decision of the HCPC to the High Court.
The Regulatory Process (Wales)
The regulator in Wales is the Care Council for Wales (CCFW). They can issue an interim suspension order for up to 6 months at any time whilst they investigate a case. The disciplinary process is as follows:-
- Investigation - an initial assessment is carried out by an investigating officer, who presents their findings to a Preliminary Proceedings Committee.
- Hearing - the Preliminary Proceedings Committee will determine whether there is a case to answer. If they decide that there is, then the case is referred for hearing before either a panel of the Conduct Committee (with respect to cases about convictions, misconduct, incompetence, determinations by other regulators, and barring decisions) or the Health Committee (i.e. re health problems). Witnesses can be called, evidence submitted, and the social worker will be able to make full representations in their defence.
- Should the committee determine that the case against the social worker has been proved on the balance of probabilities, then they can either decide to take no action, issue a warning, suspend the social worker for up to 2 years, or strike the social worker off the register.
- Appeal - the social worker can appeal the decision of the Care Council for Wales to the High Court.
Internal Disciplinary Proceedings
We also assist and represent social workers where they are the subject of internal disciplinary proceedings by their employer
What To Do If Regulatory Proceedings Are Commenced Against You
Should internal disciplinary proceedings or HCPC or CCFW regulatory proceedings be commenced against you, then please either telephone us on 0333 301 0700, or complete the questionnaire opposite.