Half of all complaints to HCPC involves social workers

HCPC regulates 16 professions yet half of all complaints were about social workers in England

Published on 4th January 2019

More than half of the complaints made to the Health and Care Professions Council last year were in relation to social workers, the regulators annual Fitness to Practise report has revealed.

While the HCPC regulates 16 different professions including occupational therapists, physiotherapists and practitioner psychologists, 51% of the 2,302 concerns raised in 2017-18 with the regulator were about social workers in England.
The total number of concerns raised increased from 2,259 in 2016-17 to 2,302 in 2017-18.

Of the 2,302 concerns raised, 1,174 were about social workers in England and 621 concerns came from the public. A further 316 came from employers while other concerns came from self-referrals, other registrants or the police.
There are 96,497 social workers in England registered with the HCPC.

"Similar to the previous year, the largest proportion of concerns we received were raised about social workers (51 per cent) and paramedics (13.8 percent)," said the report. "The majority (over 50 per cent) of the concerns raised about social workers came from members of the public. The majority (47 per cent) of concerns about the paramedics came through self-referral."

The proportion of registrants who have had a concern raised about them has remained the same at 0.64 per cent. This means that only one in 157 registrants were the subject of a new concern about their fitness to practise.

In 2017–18, 1,234 cases were closed as they did not meet the Standard of Acceptance.

Investigating Committee panels (ICPs) consider the information about concerns and decide whether there is a case to answer in relation to the allegations. ICPs considered 534 cases in 2017–18. In 59 out of 534 cases considered, the Panel requested that further information was obtained before they could make a decision. The Panel decided there was a case to answer or no case to answer in 475 cases this year. In 79 per cent of those cases, the decision was that there was a case to answer and the matter was referred for a hearing.

In 2017–18, 432 final hearing cases were concluded, however, only a limited number of these resulted in a sanction being imposed.

Of the 432 final hearings, 222 involved social workers in England:

- 50 were not well founded

- In 4 cases there was no further action

- 48 social workers were struck off

- 53 social workers were suspended

- 26 had conditions of practice

- 27 received a caution

- 12 were removed with consent

- 1 had a caution with consent

- 1 had conditions of practise with consent

"In 2017–18, 19 per cent of registrants represented themselves. A further 35 per cent chose to be represented by a professional, a slight decrease from 37 per cent from 2016–17," said the report. "We also encourage the registrants to seek representation early in the process. This is part of our regular communication about the investigation and to schedule a hearing."

Of the 222 social workers in England who were subject of a final hearing, 47 represented themselves, 56 attended and had a representative, 5 did not attend but had a representative and 114 had no representation.

Protecting the public - Promoting professionalism
Fitness to practise annual report 2018

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