HCPC investigations causing social workers ‘considerable’ stress

    Study into social workers' experiences of the regulator's fitness to practise process raises concerns over 'high emotional cost' of investigations

    HCPC fitness to practise investigations place social workers under “considerable” stress, with some having considered taking their own lives during the process, research has found.

    Five of eight social workers interviewed for the study, which is published in the British Journal of Social Work, disclosed they had either attempted suicide or considered it while under investigation by the regulator.

    The paper found the “emotional toll” of the fitness to practise process was one of three key themes of concern. The length of proceedings “exacerbated” the impact on social workers’ health, with some interviewees waiting two years for cases to conclude.

    The other themes identified by researchers concerned the impact of organisational issues – including high caseloads and problems with managers – on practice errors that had led to HCPC referrals, and the cost to social workers’ of contesting allegations.

    The research gives an insight into the experience of a small proportion of social workers who have faced fitness to practise allegations. Last year, 1,174 social workers were referred to the HCPC – around 1.2% of the workforce.

    The HCPC said the study’s “very small sample” made it hard to draw conclusions from. However, the regulator acknowledged the fitness to practise process could be stressful for registrants and said it had “support mechanisms” in place.

    What social workers told researchers

    “I knew it would be a public hearing and I had got into my head that all of my colleagues would be there and I didn’t want, I got frightened, don’t know why, that as paranoia because all that time I was so stressed. This is the bit that gets hard. I was suicidal. I was suicidal.” (Florence)

    “I became depressed very, very quickly and…I just didn’t what to do. I was, I was just bereft really…This is my, this is my professional livelihood, it’s my life and at that point I was, I mean I’d, I’d actually attempted suicide.” (Megan).

    “It’s had an impact, especially with my lupus it’s, because stress triggers and yeah, quite ill, quite, it’s had a really big impact emotionally, mentally, health wise and obviously financially as well.” (Amal)

    *The study used pseudonyms for the social workers to protect their confidentiality

    About the research

    Academics at the University of Central Lancashire, Manchester Metropolitan University and Sheffield University carried out the study after finding prior research on fitness to practise gave “little consideration” to social workers’ experiences.

    The paper is part of a wider project on social work regulation, with the full findings to be released at an event next week.

    Of the eight social workers interviewed, three were found to have no case to answer, three received a caution or conditions of practice order and two were struck off. Although some returned to work, the “fear of making another ‘mistake’” was a common theme and led to them practising defensively or changing role completely.

    Organisational issues

    On the issue of organisational factors, some of the social workers felt they would be accused of being “in denial” if they raised organisational issues in their defence. However, two said they’d used the HCPC process to positively help tackle issues with their organisation.

    On the issue of costs, the high legal fees social workers’ faced to secure representation, and the HCPC’s policy of only covering expenses of its own witnesses but not those called by registrants, were felt to mitigate against a “fair” hearing. Some interviewees said they had stopped engaging with the HCPC process “simply because they could not afford to”.

    ‘Shame and stigma’

    Jadwiga Leigh, one of the study authors, acknowledged the research only covered a small sample but she said the interviews highlighted an important and often hidden side of the fitness to practise process.

    “That emotional dimension of how the process affects people is often missing, as is an understanding of how those social workers can become isolated. There isn’t the support in place, they are not connected to other people going through the same process,” she said.

    “One of the social workers said they couldn’t even tell their best friend, who was also a social worker, about being referred to the HCPC. There can be a lot of shame and stigma, and that isn’t recognised.”

    Leigh said she hoped the findings would be considered by policymakers developing Social Work England – a new organisation the government plans to set up to take on social work regulation from 2018.

    ‘Proportionality and fairness’

    A spokesman for the HCPC acknowledged the experiences of the social workers interviewed but said it was difficult to draw conclusions from the “very small sample”.

    He said the fitness to practise process was designed to protect the public, not punish professionals for past mistakes. The “vast majority” of social workers met the HCPC’s standards and the regulator’s own research on practitioners’ experience was “broadly positive” about the process, he added.

    “All the individuals in the research have recounted the emotional toll the process has taken on them. We recognise it can be a very difficult and stressful experience for those involved which is why we have support mechanisms in place and try to make our processes as open and clear as possible,” he continued.

    These included a named case manager to answer social workers’ queries on cases, and guidance for employers designed to avoid placing “unnecessary stress” on social workers by making sure only fitness to practise matters are referred.

    The HCPC encouraged social workers to engage in the process and speak to their union or professional body to secure representation. The regulator also said it had worked with the Samaritans to develop guidance for its staff on recognising when registrants may be vulnerable and to provide “signposting” to organisations that could help.

    “Every case is different, but is managed, investigated and assessed on its own merits ensuring proportionality and fairness to all those involved,” the spokesman said.

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    44 Responses to HCPC investigations causing social workers ‘considerable’ stress

    1. Neil March 2, 2017 at 12:46 pm #

      If they cannot stand their conduct being scrutinised by their regulator then they should look for a job doing something else; If they have done nothing wrong then they have nothing to fear and nothing to get stressed against

      • Longtime SW March 2, 2017 at 3:30 pm #

        Not a frontline social worker I assume.

        It is not about conduct being subject to scrutiny it is about whether it is FAIR

      • Stuart March 2, 2017 at 7:02 pm #

        If only that ‘nothing to fear’ comment were true..
        Clearly this comes from someone who is not only not a front line social worker but also is not possessed of the emotional intelligence required to ever become one.

        • IanKemp March 9, 2017 at 10:32 am #

          I agree… Lack of emotional intelligence is quite common within the hierarchy of local Gov. Indeed to make any progress up the hierarchy does require a certain emotional style. The whole structure of social work organisation these days does mean that you will make progress if you are a person who able to control and supress feelings whatever the unjustness of what you maybe experiencing. One description comes to mind re the nature of the corporate response to anything is bureaucratic fascism .

      • Jemma Morrison March 5, 2017 at 12:05 am #

        That’s a little over simplified

        • Jemma Morrison March 5, 2017 at 12:06 am #

          The above applies to Neil

      • Steve March 9, 2017 at 9:29 am #

        It must be great to be perfect Neil. I remember a former colleague who was put through the mill based on the allegations of a client’s parents. My colleague documented all her work, and everything was proportionate and in time scale. It was only after the care proceedings were completed that the parents admitted they had lied about the events.

        Frontline workers are not supported in what is a difficult and emotionally charged environment. Other professions would not tolerate the abuse and threats, and would be supported by their line management, and employer.

    2. Longtime SW March 2, 2017 at 1:43 pm #

      Not covering any of the registrants’ witness expenses? That would not be allowed in a Court of Law (which this is not) – therefore makes HCPC hearings akin to a ‘kangaroo Court’ – not fair or reasonable – if it is a question of number of witnesses that could be limited (for both sides) – Join a union is my advice

      • Ben Glass March 2, 2017 at 4:59 pm #

        It could be because it’s ‘kangaroo court’, or possibly for the more likely reason that decisions on fitness to practice deal is a civil matter, not a criminal one (although ftp hearings often come about as consequence of professionals’ criminality).

        Have you raised your concern with the appropriate body? What’s been their response?

        • Longtime SW March 3, 2017 at 12:38 pm #

          Hi Ben – FYI – There are three strands to the Courts of Law: Criminal Court, Civil Court and Family (sometimes known as Public) Court. All of them broadly apply the principle of even handedness/fairness in terms of status of witnesses access to hearings whichever ‘side’ they are appearing for.

          Access to a fair hearing should not be hampered by whether it can be afforded.

    3. Su March 2, 2017 at 4:36 pm #

      Hmmm … which right-minded social worker does not question themselves every single day? Nothing to fear – except what do we know about power and empowerment, about the power of bureaucracies being able to hide behind substantial legal departments, about the smallest being easy-pickings while the system goes unchecked – where is the accountability of institutions such as that highlighted in ‘Under Lock and Key’ [Channel 4]?

    4. Experience March 2, 2017 at 6:17 pm #

      The process is unfair unjust lacks transparency. There is no support and the time it takes to conduct an investigation is ridiculous. You are informed that someone has raised a concern but not given any details for months. It is extremely traumatic.

    5. Stuart March 2, 2017 at 7:15 pm #

      If eight is too small a sample group to draw conclusions from then the number of eleven point something thousand is too high. Especially when three of that eight had ‘no case to answer’ and three only needed (essentially) some extra monitoring for a while.

      And who did what about the numbskull types who referred those ‘no case to answer’ people?

      This report and the issues it raises fill me with even more anger than I already felt about the HCPC – an I speak as one who has referred someone I managed to the hcpc’s predecessor for dishonesty so I’m not averse to social workers’ misconduct being recorded (after being appropriately sanctioned by their employer) but the hcpc and the way it operates is way, way beyond the proverbial pale.

    6. jayn March 2, 2017 at 11:34 pm #

      As a social worker who waited for the case against me to be heard ( with adjournments on 2 occasions), for 2 years i wholeheartedly agree about the stress, i too at times felt suicidal, terrified of losing my career and all that i had worked for despite knowing that i was innocent and had done nothing wrong. i suffered from depression and anxiety ending up on anti depressants and my relationship with my family suffered. The manager who referred me to the HCPC did a hatchet job on me and was found during the hearing to have exaggerated claims and actually did not investigate the original complaint properly. i was completely exonerated yet the manager continues in her job with no comeback. how is this a fair and just process. Yes i was glad that the HCPC cleared my name but I believe that they should have raised their own inquiry into the manager. The HCPC are not interested in justice for those social workers who have been cleared, meanwhile I (and no doubt many others) had to leave and find work elsewhere as i was worried about the backlash. The cost for social workers going through this process is horrendous, i don.t know what support it is that the HCPC claim is available because I for one received nothing of the sort except made to feel guilty from the very beginning with my name and details out there for everyone to see,

      • Hmmmmm March 8, 2017 at 7:44 pm #

        Jayn is so right. The HCPC allows itself to be used in a way that is Mccarthy ‘ist. They don’t go back to the original complainant to investigate them. I too was found as having no case to answer but with a caveat of the complaint still being ‘live’ if there are any further complaints that are similar. How many other managers out there can feel truly safe that other complaints may not be forthcoming. My complaint was maliciously motivated with acknowledged un-truths made about me. And that person is also a social worker. But there will be no come-back for them. I have felt betrayed by the profession l love and l seriously felt giving up and walking away, it was only the support of my family that kept me strong.

        My heartfelt pity goes out to any other professional who is put through this. It has stayed with me, damaged my career prospects and my own emotional and mental wellbeing. You get a ‘how did we do’ form to complete at the end of the investigation but it does NOT allow for any personal feelings or any learning for them as an organisation. I sincerely hope the HCPC now takes their own learning from this .

    7. Paul March 3, 2017 at 11:10 am #

      Much of the stress is how long it takes for the hearing. As a witness the hearing took almost 2 years … very unfair on the worker concerned (who worked elsewhere until hearing and then suspended…so we also had a risky worker working for 2 years until hearing)

      • David Steare March 9, 2017 at 12:29 pm #

        Agreed, Paul.

        If you read my presentation I have just uploaded to the Facebook page ‘Social Workers with HCPC Proceedings’ you will notice that so far I have been involved with the HCPC for four years and one month, with my next suspension review in five months time!

        However, unlike your experience, I stopped working as a social worker before I let my registration expire in November 2014 (only for the HCPC to reinstate me later against my will), I started collecting my state pension in December 2015, and my final hearing concluded in August 2016 when they suspended my registration.

    8. Miss Taylor March 3, 2017 at 12:53 pm #

      Seems to me Neil has no idea what he’s talking about.

      Criminality aside. If the HCPC FTP process was FAIR and transparent, then many more social workers would have no case to answer. Managers would and should. I would say look closely at the allegations many social workers face, and read between the lines most hearing are the outcome of witch hunts.

      HCPC is not interested in mitigating factors or what the sw has suffered before arriving at their feet. They will rub salt into wounds and twist knives in sw’s backs, tell them it’s their responsibility no matter what; after all they have to justify their role.

      Neil do you not think every social worth their salt is not horrified when things don’t go right, do you not realise how many sleepless nights an unsupported worker suffers when practising with out backup or if their manager is a bully or incompetent.

      Our practice is scrutinised all the time to facilitate reflective practice and learning opportunities. The HCPC is intent on punishment, shaming and breaking many very good social workers lives and good characters.
      At the end of the day unless you are very wealthy there is no chance to appeal their kangaroo judgements which makes them able to get away with anything including driving many good social workers toward suicide.

      Apart from criminal acts and investigations all hearings should be private and confidential with outcomes only available to prospective employee’s.

      So Neil, come and walk a mile in our shoes

    9. Taimi Ailonga March 3, 2017 at 5:50 pm #

      Every case is different and investigated different and this is what adding stress to social workers. Social workers write reports with their recommendations and that report will be considered after a year or two years . Testifying after a year is not a joke because the minds was not more on that case. Anyway they know how to hadle stress and they should not let themself to be stressed.

    10. Nikki March 3, 2017 at 6:02 pm #

      Surely fitness to practice hearings meet the definition of a trial under the Human Rights Act (1998). If so, then social workers have a right to a fair trial and witness costs should be paid no matter which side of the case they are on. Not doing so could be argued to be a breach of the act.

    11. Ian March 3, 2017 at 7:04 pm #

      Excellently expresed Miss Taylor, I think every social worker would agree with you.

    12. Veteran social worker March 3, 2017 at 7:15 pm #

      I was referred to the HCPC by my bully of an employer for an issue that could have and should have been dealt with internally
      A genuine mistake due to stress and excessive workload and no support from line manager
      I was suicidal
      It took 2 years for the hearing to take place
      During that time I was off sick with severe anxiety and depression
      As for “support” from the HCPC that’s a joke
      I had to go to London for a week for the hearing
      So the cost of staying in London and paying my barrister cost me thousands of pounds
      We have since had to sell our house as a result

      • IanKemp March 9, 2017 at 10:44 am #

        You have my sympathy ……… Unfortunately this is all to common. The unions are weak or none existent.. there is very little support . You a individual are faced with a huge bureaucracy which can and often does use whatever means it can to win its case. It is vindictive and can be very cruel. But they do not care. although I myself have not been subject to such a experience in over 45 years I know many who have had their lives ruined by the experience.

    13. Megan March 4, 2017 at 9:15 am #

      I am one of the participants of this study. It took over a year to decide that there was no case to answer that there was no evidence to substantiate the case against me. I did not find out what I had supposed to have done for 3 months. It was like being arrested but not told why. 8 social workers took part but think of the hundreds who have been referred to hcpc all who will have felt stressed out. I am happy to be scrutinised we have to be and should be regulated. The majority of research h tells us that systemic failings are at the root of ‘failures’ of social work. In my case I had been sexually and physically assaulted and bullied by my senior manager who had been held in high regard. No one believed me. I felt like a child who had disclosed abuse and not believed. Instead I was referred to the HCPC. No one who does this job tries to give poor service. We are there to help people. Help ourselves to do it right by offering support not berating. If after this social workers can’t do it or they aren’t fit to work then make sure they are managed out of the job. I agree the public need to be protected from harmful practice. I am now a social work manager and yes worry every day- not that my practice is wrong but that I give my social workers the right support to do one of the hardest jobs there is, supporting vulnerable people.

    14. Marycom March 4, 2017 at 2:42 pm #

      The HCPC can not make recommendations about Social Workers who end their membership. Which is why HCPC attempt to force Social Workers to continue with their membership. They have no legal right to do this, but they imply that they do.
      If you have ended your membership HCPC has no jurisdiction over you if you are not a member.
      Also, when you finally get the reason you have been referred to HCPC do not depend on HCPC to safeguard you against lies. Everyone should report (if they know the allegations are not true) and raise a complaint with HCPC against the person attempting to destroy your reputation and take away your ability to make a living.
      People should face consequences when they raise false allegations against you. Even if proven false allegations against you the HCPC does not go after the person who has maliciously raised a complaint against you.
      Let the person who had made false allegations face their own membership being at risk.
      I have noticed that managers follow a set formula when laying false allegations in the hope that the Social Worker will crumble and give in to the false allegations. It is disgraceful but true

    15. Marycom March 4, 2017 at 4:47 pm #

      Do not trust HCPC to protect you and your innocence they don’t give a crap. They will strip your membership even if you have done nothing wrong. All it takes is malicious allegations and then your gone.

      If your manager makes a complaint that is seen as gospel my manager was an alcoholic it was so frightening becaus you never knew what crazy mood she was in. My manager would sit their too drunk to put together a sentence

      But as she said who is going to believe you? I’m the manager and they need me more than they need you.

      Do not trust HCPC to get honesty or justice. What ever evidence you present your done.

    16. Trevor March 4, 2017 at 5:23 pm #

      Who cares about there suffering after all the lives they distroy.

    17. Ken H March 5, 2017 at 6:36 pm #

      I agree with those SW that state the HCPC are not a transparent honest regulator. It is very much a kangaroo court and this needs to change. The aim of the HCPC is to protect the public from those who are clinically dangerous and pose a threat to the public, however they bother with idle gossip and nonsense, the you have the costs they are astronomical, this is not protecting the public it’s an organisation that’s more concerned with its own self importance!

    18. dfeb5e98-18e8-4af2-a19b-e4a5ed45483c March 6, 2017 at 9:41 am #

      After being investigated twice, for the same malicious complaint from an ex member of staff, who was sacked for there own misconduct i have come to the conclusion that the HCPC is totally incompetent as a regulatory body, I was only able to get the matter resolved after instructing my solicitor to write to the HCPC to bring the matter to a swift conclusion. Completely useless as a regulatory body with a completely one sided disciplinary procedure.

    19. Johnny W. March 6, 2017 at 9:05 pm #

      I have been called as a witness by the HCPC for a situation with an employee of a LA in the midlands that I worked at briefly that was in absolutely chaos. The worker in question did things wrong without doubt but the culture was toxic with a crumbling team without any support. The case has been waiting to be heard for over 2 years which is ridiculous and has been adjourned/postponed on two seperate occasions already which is farcical when somebodys livelyhood is at stake – that would stress anyone. When the HCPC advised me the LA did not have any records for the service user in question they didn’t think that was an issue itself. The HCPC is a beyond a joke and I begrudge having to pay them for nothing to do a hard job where we are hung out to dry at every opportunity.

    20. John Smith March 7, 2017 at 6:53 am #

      Do social workers consider stress on parents when children are removed from care, in some instances wrongly? Did the social workers involved in cases such as Baby P and Victoria Climbie consider the emotional distress which those children were going through?

      Any disciplinary or professional conduct process is going to involve a degree of stress on the person who is alleged to have committed misconduct – does that mean social workers should be beyond reproach? It strikes me that the article (which requires registration to read) is yet another case of special pleading for social workers, who can never be wrong or do any harm to their clients.

      This is a profession in collective denial about its faults.

      (I fully expect that this will not be published).

      • Jon Clark March 8, 2017 at 3:31 pm #

        John, firstly I feel you should at least have the courage of your convictions to comment with your own name instead of hiding behind a pseudonym.
        Secondly I can assure you without doubt that in cases where the children are removed from their parents care I do consider the stress of the parents/carers and all of those involved, however the priority of my thoughts and concerns go to the children who are living in unacceptable conditions and experiencing a level of abuse and neglect. Children do not get removed from their parents for no reason, so although I empathise with the parents and recognise that it is a very traumatic experience it is in all likelihood down to the fact that their behaviour has impacted on their children negatively.
        Thirdly your comments on situations as tragic as Victoria Climbie and Baby P show a vast lack of knowledge around these cases on your part.
        The serious case reviews for these cases found that the majority of the changes required to stop cases like this happening were down to a lack of information sharing between many agencies and an equal amount of mistakes made by Health, Police and Education as well as Social Care. Without doubt there were individuals who made mistakes in these tragic cases, however I can assure you that not one Social Worker that I know, including myself, fails to recognise the emotional and physical distress that those children experienced and our heart goes out to them. It is for children like that many of us do this Job and it is because of Parents/ Carers like those of those children that mean we have to remove the children, whilst like you pointed out, recognise the stress that doing so would of had on the people that killed and tormented them.
        Finally I think that you have once again shown a lack of understanding, from what I have read above and within similar articles not one person is saying that we should be beyond reproach, what they are saying is that the process should be fair and justified and that we should be entitled to the same opportunities to defend ourselves and have witnesses defend us, as that available within any other court process.
        None of us are saying that we should get special treatment, what we are saying is that if the systems and organisations that we work within actually adhered to the recommendations that have been made by officials and professionals to the Government and the HCPC, then many of the issues for which Social Workers have been dragged over the coals would not have happened.
        And of course your views would be published, a key aspect of social work is freedom and social justice which enables people to have their views heard no matter how idiotic they appear to be.

      • Longtime SW March 8, 2017 at 3:43 pm #

        Mr Smith – I am hazarding a guess that you have missed the point most comments are making – that the HCPC process is not fair and transparent and is one sided.

        As for your generalised comments about the social work profession, I take it you yourself are not a frontline social worker?

        It is a fact that Peter Connelly (calling him Baby P dehumanises him) and Victoria Climbie were killed by their carer’s and the emotional stress and physical abuse they suffered was at their carer’s hands – incidentally the SCR found a number of agencies had missed opportunities to intervene differently, not just social work professionals – I do not see any comments that suggest that social workers “should be beyond reproach”.

        sadly, the profession is all too often reminded about it’s ‘faults’ by those who choose to be in ignorance about the majority of time when they get things right, protect the vulnerable, work above and beyond their contracted hours, are creative in accessing opportunity’s and resources to lay the seeds of making the vulnerable ion our selfish, greedy society make things a little better.

        Come and do a day or even a week in a social work team – that would change your mind.

        And, by the way, if you are actually a social worker I despair for the vulnerable people you work with.

      • Steve March 9, 2017 at 10:01 am #

        John, you contradict yourself in the first paragraph citing the stress on parents, and yet follow this with the failure to remove a child in the second sentence. The decision for children to enter the care system is not taken lightly, and there are legal safeguards and thresholds that have to be met. There has never been an occasion when placing a child in LA care that I have not weighed up the pros and cons, and considered the impact on the child. It would be wrong to assume every parent who has a child removed is on the scale of Baby P and Victoria Climbie but rather the parent lacks the baseline skills to safeguard their child from chronic neglect or abuse. It is a far more complex issue with poor mental health, substance misuse, or/and domestic violence often present. Unless there is an immediate and significant risk of harm to the child most authorities will try to work with the parents to improve matters. At times I feel that that it can be to the detriment of the child. On other occasions the intervention brings about sufficient change for the parent to offer adequate parenting.

        I agree that social workers should not be exempt from scrutiny but the article is saying that there is a lack of transparency, and poor representation for workers.

        I accompanied a colleague to a tribunal in the past and at the end of the hearing the panel chair asked my colleague if she had any comments, to which my colleague replied “yes, who is looking after my other clients while I’m stuck in this room?”

      • David Steare March 9, 2017 at 12:19 pm #

        John, I believe that there is a potential shared interest between parents who suffer losing their children and social workers who suffer from regulation.

        In my presentation yesterday I uploaded to my Facebook page ‘Social Workers with HCPC Proceedings’ I conclude by questioning the basis of risk assessments that seem to govern child care decisions as well as public protection from social workers. Both may be fabrications.

    21. Martin March 8, 2017 at 2:27 pm #

      I have represented people at the HCPC as part of a previous job. I have also been investigated by he HCPC. Further to this I had a friend who killed herself as a result of being informed she was to be investigated by the HCPC.

      The HCPC sometimes works fairly, sometimes not, in my view. It depends on the investigator, the panel, and the legal assessor who advises the panel. There are some parts entirely unfair to a registrant appearing before them, partly of the HCPC’s making, partly not.

      Examples include the HCPC guidance that if you don’t acknowledge admit and show insight into what you’re accused of, they will give you a more serious sanction. What if you honestly believe you haven’t done it? Another issue is that if you wish to appeal against their decision, you have to pay Togo to the High Court. This wasn’t the case with their predecessors the GSCC. This is a government decision, written into the law.

      I don’t consider the HCPC is supportive. They could do so much more, like not paying for expensive lawyers to present the case against registrants, when they could be presented by HCPC staff as the do at Interim Hearings. They could provide or pay for duty-type representatives for registrants who are otherwise unrepresented. They could pay travel and accommodation in all cases when they call people to face a Hearing. They could provide private rooms for registrants to speak to their representatives.

      They could publish (anonymising where necessary) those cases where social workers do not receive a sanction.

      Finally is it me or is there a disproportionate number of BME social workers appearing before them?

      • David Steare March 9, 2017 at 12:15 pm #

        Thank you Martin for making these points that were discussed yesterday at the Sheffield University seminar.

        We wondered if your last question can remain unanswered because of the non-collection of ethnicity data relating to referred registrants.

    22. Lloyd March 8, 2017 at 3:54 pm #

      The Independent police complaints commission is the same as social work regulators, they just want to get people sacked and struck off.

      It’s not even remotely fair, if the justice system in this county was the same as these cowboys half the population would be in jail!

    23. Red1 March 8, 2017 at 5:34 pm #

      The support mechanisms ‘included a named case manager to answer social workers’ queries on cases’.
      The case manager is nothing more than a joke. I was reported to HCPC by a vexed client who makes a habit of reporting all professionals who encounter said client’s wrath. I was never informed of the content of the complaint and after 2 years of ‘waiting for more information from the complainant’ I was not investigated further.When I called the case manager during the time I was waiting to find out what was going on, invariably she wasn’t there so I had to leave a message to call back, only to find they could tell me nothing and they offered no support at all. The process went on for so long that the case manager changed but still could not give me any more information other than they were waiting for more information. They would not tell me how long they were prepared to wait for this information to materialise. They did however tell me that even if nothing were found against me my name would remain on their ‘list’ for 3 years. Oh, and they sent me a letter telling me that in the meantime I could continue to practice as a Speech Therapist! I am a social worker , many years qualified! I felt as though I was dealing with a bunch of incompetents. Yet all the time there was that anxiety that ‘something’ would be found that they could use against me. It was a very anxious & worrying time that my long career could be ended out of the spite of one person. I’m glad to be over it but have no faith in their processes or in getting a fair hearing whatsoever.

    24. David Steare March 9, 2017 at 12:10 pm #

      I have uploaded my presentation that I gave to ‘The State of Regulation: Professional, Ethical and Personal Dilemmas’ conference yesterday to the Facebook page ‘Social Workers with HCPC Proceedings’.

      Very grateful to Jadwiga and colleagues for all of their work on this subject and looking forward to a time when regulation embraces non-violent communication by allowing dialogic negotiation prior to any formal legal hearing.

    25. Ka J March 9, 2017 at 12:38 pm #

      I have recently been investigated by the HCPC for incorrect expenses claim that my manager had authorised and then a year later admitted that she had not checked them before authorising the payments.
      The whole experience has caused me a great deal of stress and anxiety especially as I have been waiting 2 years and have still not had an outcome.
      The HCPC do not care about the person being investigated and I have received no support from a case manager. They simply do not care.
      I have not been able to continue working as a social worker, a profession I greatly enjoyed.
      Until I get an outcome I am not sure if I will be able to practise as a social worker again. If this should be the case I really do not know how I will cope with that decision.

    26. John Smith March 9, 2017 at 5:31 pm #

      It’s interesting that the responses to my comment tend to be personal comments about a lack of understanding, or along the lines of “if you’re not a social worker how dare you comment!”

      I despair for a profession whose members are not prepared to accept the slightest criticism from others – presumably the same commentators rejected Lord Lamming’s report on the same basis. I’ll remember the responses made here, come the next time there is a high-profile case involving social services.

      Incidentally, professional conduct hearings have been in the public domain for years, for example:


      It’s not the HCPC’s responsibility to arrange representation for people who are subject to proceedings. BASW offers a free advice service and representation in regulatory proceedings and advises social workers to opt into the Social Workers Union.

      (I fully expect this will not be published).

    27. Dad March 11, 2017 at 9:51 pm #

      I have read the article and some of the comments and cant believe what I am reading. HCPC are there to do a job and that is protect the public. Don’t get me wrong not all social workers are the same but if you go by the 8 that were surveyed 2 were struck off 3 were given a warning, to get a warning there has to be something wrong 62% of social workers doing something they should not be, there are people on here minimising the warnings, these are people who are in control of peoples lives.thats like with any employer they not going to take you to disciplinary for nothing and HCPC employees are human also they do make mistakes, but social workers should not be putting themselves in those situations where they have to answer to conduct issues.

      1. Social workers know what they are getting themselves into before they start this line of career, they have to study for a number of years and is not a knee jerk reaction.
      2. Cuts, workload etc is no excuse for poor or not doing their jobs. When you become a social worker you should not be motivated by the money but by the fact of helping others, but unfortunately this is not the case which is why social workers jump from local authority to local authority.
      3. Everyone is accountable for their own actions and there are consequences for doing wrong.
      5. Social workers complaining about the impact on social workers, during investigations, what about the impact on the families who are affected by those social workers, parents and children both attempt, contemplate suicide because of mistakes by them.
      6. Cost of hearings, these days there is no funding for family matters and most parents cant afford representation, so why should a corrupt social worker get representation, when they are answering to a conduct panel relating to those findings, easy solution for those who have no case to answer to be reimbursed their legal fees only where it is 100% certain there has been no wrong doing.
      7. People on here are talking about transparency, easy solution is to record interactions between social workers and the public, problem solved.

      As a father of a 4 year old who has suffered child abuse for 2 years and had 7 social workers who have turned a blind eye to it when evidence is available and they refuse to look at it and then write false reports and then leave before hearings, also knowing I did not have representation. My child has to suffer abuse because the local authority didn’t like the fact I complained about them internally within the local authority. If the HCPC were not there what else would I do, who else would listen?

    28. Nadia Phillips March 12, 2017 at 8:46 pm #

      Well Neil, consider yourself ‘well & truly’ reprimanded, in having an opinion. I, like yourself, am not a Social Worker aka Budget Guarder – and soooo agree with your analogy. Nothing to hide, nothing to fear! These Social Workers quite happily cut corners, act above the law and mess up ‘service users’ lives, in denying them their rights and entitlements to help and vital support. Social Work, once considered a ‘vocation’ is now a well paid job – targeting the most vulnerable and denying them resources – how do they sleep at night??? They happy to collect their 30 pieces of silver, but when any challenges to their ‘lack of professionalism’ they fall to pieces/ becoming suicidal etc
      This ishould be put down to ‘lived experience’ – a glimmer of how some of the ‘serviceusers’ struggling with life, turn to them for support, might feel??