On 2 December, Social Work England will take over for the regulation of England’s nearly 100,000 social workers, replacing the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC), the regulator since 2012.
Social Work England will be responsible for registering all social workers, ensuring they carry out continuing professional development, regulating social work education providers and handling fitness to practise concerns.
Below are the key things social workers and social work education providers need to know about the transition happening early next month.
What do social workers need to do before 2 December?
Because all registration details will be transferred over to Social Work England from the HCPC automatically, there is no need for registered social workers to do anything. However, if any social worker’s details have changed, it’s important to change these with the HCPC before 2 December so the correct information is transferred.
What if a social worker needs to register before 2 December?
Social workers should continue to register with the HCPC until 2 December and direct any registration concerns or questions to them until then. Throughout November, Social Work England and the HCPC are working closely to ensure that any applications to join the register are transferred to Social Work England to action.
From 8 November, the HCPC will return any applications for registration where insufficient or incorrect information has been provided by the applicant. Social workers should return their amended application for registration back to HCPC for processing right up until 2 December.
On the week commencing 18 November, the HCPC will include a feature on the transfer in its regular enews ‘In Focus’, which is sent to all registered social workers.
What happens after 2 December?
On 2 December, Social Work England fully takes over regulatory duties and the live register becomes available. and all registration details will be transferred over to Social Work England from the HCPC.
From 2 December, Social Work England will email all social workers with a link and instructions to set up their new online account. They will need to change their login details, but all their information will be already loaded.
This account will enable social workers to:
- View their registration details
- Update their personal information
- Upload CPD
- Communicate securely with Social Work England
Everyone will have the option to subscribe to email updates next year and Social Work England says it will continue to work with social workers to identify the best way to keep in touch.
The new regulator is currently developing its engagement strategy and wants people to let it know how they want to engage. Social workers, educators and other interested parties can take this online survey on engaging with Social Work England, which will be live until 29 November.
On 2 December, Social Work England will also take over all existing fitness to practise cases and will make direct contact with the social workers concerned.
How are the HCPC and Social Work England managing the transition of fitness to practise cases?
According to the HCPC, there are currently 1476 live fitness to practise cases, of which 877 were received in the last six months.
It added that many of those cases are in the “earlier stages of investigation”.
“To ensure regulatory continuity until the transfer, we are continuing to respond to any incoming concerns, our investigating committee will consider 102 cases and 17 tribunals are scheduled” a spokesperson for the HCPC said.
To date, 146 cases have been reviewed as requiring a tribunal and are being handed to Social Work England.
The HCPC is continuing to manage and review 59 interim orders and 69 substantive suspensions and conditions of practice orders.
What happens to live cases after the transfer on 2 December?
Social Work England will take over the management of any live cases at the time of the transfer.
“Our fitness to practise teams are working together and we are already in the process of handing over cases which have gone through our investigating committee and whose hearings cannot take place until after the transfer,” an HCPC spokesperson said. “Those affected have been notified by our case teams,” the spokesperson added.
The remainder of cases will transfer on 2 December.
The HCPC is exchanging updated information with Social Work England’s fitness to practise team on a weekly basis, “in order for them to become familiar with the cases and issues”.
On 2 December the responsibility for the regular review of the existing substantive conditions of practice orders and suspensions will also move to Social Work England, as well as the maintenance of any interim orders.
What do social work education providers need to know about the transition?
An HCPC spokesperson said its and Social Work England’s education departments have been “working together to ensure education providers understand how to work with us during transition”.
Effectively, for new programmes, education providers now work with the Social Work England team, the spokesperson added.
From November, providers have also been directed to work with Social Work England on any plans they have for major changes to existing programmes.
Existing programmes continue to be regulated and monitored by the HCPC until the transfer. This webpage provides a summary of what the HCPC has shared with education providers.
For more information on the transition, head to Social Work England’s website.