Lord Patel resigns as Social Work England chair

Former social worker steps down as regulator's inaugural chair after five years at helm, to be replaced on interim basis by board member Andrew McCulloch

Lord Kamlesh Patel
Lord Kamlesh Patel. Photo: Lorne Campbell/Guzelian

Lord Patel has stepped down as Social Work England’s inaugural chair after five years at the helm.

The former social worker and ex-head of Mental Health Act watchdog the Mental Health Act Commission said he was stepping back from a number of commitments this year but “would really miss working with the organisation”.

He will be replaced for a year, as interim chair, by current Social Work England board member Andrew McCulloch, a health and social care consultant who was previously a civil servant and leader of charities including the Mental Health Foundation.

The Department for Education appointed Patel in March 2018 to help set up Social Work England and prepare it to take over the regulation of the profession from the Health and Care Professions Council in December 2019.

Chief executive Colum Conway paid tribute to Patel’s working during this period, saying he “visited over 1000 people and organisations during our start up phase to ensure that our specialist approach was grounded in the reality of delivering social work practice”.

‘Commitment to social work’

Conway added: “His commitment to social work and everyone who uses and works for the profession has been invaluable to the organisation.”

Patel said: “I am extremely proud of the progress that Social Work England has made in its formative years and would like to thank everyone who has been instrumental in this. I am confident that by continuing its commitment to work with people with lived experience of social work, social workers, academics, employers, students and everyone with an interest in social work, Social Work England will make lasting change.”

The appointment of McCulloch, who is not a social worker by background, comes with the regulator about to launch a three-year strategy, covering 2023-26.

He said: “I have been deeply committed to social work and social care throughout my career both generally and in regard to people with mental health problems or learning disabilities. It has been a privilege to support Social Work England from its very beginning and witness its progress in bringing together the profession to drive change, raise standards in social work and raise the profile and standing of this vital profession. As we prepare to launch our strategy for 2023 to 2026 I look forward to working with all of our stakeholders to drive positive change.”

4 Responses to Lord Patel resigns as Social Work England chair

  1. The voice March 11, 2023 at 6:57 am #

    Social Work England seem OK. They are a bit faceless and hard to relate to. It is hard to understand their role…pushing social work standards up has not been matched by pushing for fair resources for the people we serve.

    The country is in a dire, sad state driven by right-wing politics. By people.

    Since I have been a social worker, I have never felt the hcpc or sw England stand up for service users.

  2. Ahmed March 11, 2023 at 11:58 pm #

    That was never the role of SWE.
    However, as you state they are never there for the service user or to represent the staff but on the face of it seems merely a money making machine. Saying that I had waited few times almost an hour just for them to pick the phone.

  3. Joanne March 12, 2023 at 10:46 am #

    Although Social Work England need to ramp up standards, this mission becomes futile for workers struggling to fight for the most needy in society.

    How can standards be raised when there are no community carers to support people, in terms of providing packages of care at home.

    How can standards be raised when social workers are faced with bidding against stakeholders for care?

    How can standards be raised when faced with overburdened case loads and repetitive unnecessary paperwork and processes and when faced with a shortage of workers.

    Please can Social Work England prioritise what is really more important than setting unreal expectations for the public and for the profession.

  4. John Simpson March 14, 2023 at 12:24 pm #

    What has SWE ever done for social workers?

    It was imposed on the profession and the membership have no say in how it is led by people through a democratic process. It is undoubtedly state interference that provides nothing of value to the profession (can anyone name something they have contributed to the profession? Standards were already in place in both the GCSS and HCPC), rather its main function is to discipline errant social workers.

    I didn’t know that Lord Patel was the head of SWE and I care even less that Andrew McColloch is taking over. They don’t represent me and I resent the undemocratic nature of this regulator.