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HCPC To Social Work England And What This Means For Social Workers

As some of you may already know, the HCPC (Health and Care Professions Council) will be replaced by Social Work England in December 2019, becoming the new regulator for social workers across the country. But what exactly does this mean for social workers, and what impact will this have on working practices, and our industry as a whole? In this blog, we give you the lowdown on who HCPC is, who Social Work England are, and what this change entails.

What Is The HCPC?

The HCPC is an independent regulator of social workers, as well as healthcare professionals including psychologists, paramedics, chiropodists and dieticians. Their role is to protect the public by maintaining a register of all those who are registered as (e.g.) social workers, ensuring that they follow the standards that allow safe, legal and effective practice.

What Do The HCPC Do?

They have a wide range of responsibilities, including:

  • Setting standards for professionals’ education, training and practice.
  • Keeps a register of professionals who meet their standards.
  • Takes action if professionals on the register do not meet their standards.
  • Consults social workers on the work they do, allowing open discussions and improvements to be identified.

Why The Change From The HCPC To Social Work England?

The Department for Education (DfE) has been very critical of HCPC’s oversight of social work education courses and claims that too many programmes are creating poor quality trainees – ill-equipped to deal with the realities of working within the industry. The DfE would also like more influence over the standards courses must meet for approval. Social Work England would have to get its standards for approval signed off by the government. As the HCPC is independent from the government, it doesn’t have to do this.

There has also been much demand for a bespoke body for social work, rather than a multi-profession regulator.

What Will The Change To Social Work England Involve?

The HCPC will transfer personal data so that Social Work England can establish better systems, prepare properly for the transfer of responsibilities and then carry out those responsibilities.

Social Work England’s Responsibilities Will Include:

  • Protecting, promoting and maintaining the health, safety and well-being of the public.
  • Instill public confidence in social workers in England.
  • Maintain a register of social workers.
  • Run fitness to practise hearings.
  • Set standards for initial education and training and professional standards, including standards of proficiency and continuous professional development.
  • Take on regulation of Best Interests Assessors and Approved Mental Health Professionals.

How Will This Impact Social Workers Currently Registered With The HCPC?

By and large, this switch will have little impact on social workers registered with the HCPC, because:

  • The transfer, including payment of fees, will be automatic for everyone on the register.
  • Registrants can still continue to raise concerns with the HCPC until December the 2nd, with any that haven’t been resolved by that point handed over to Social Work England.

What Are They Key Differences Between Social Work England and the HCPC?

  • Social Work England is focused on social workers, unlike the HCPC which regulates 16 professions.
  • Social Work England can receive government funding.
  • The HCPC doesn’t allow the regulation of AMHPs and BIAs for example, whereas Social Work England does. Similarly, social work students may also be allowed to register.
  • Professional standards will be set and approved by the government for more formal regulations within the industry. Social Work England will therefore also be accountable to the government.

Hopefully this blog has assuaged some of your concerns about the change. To learn more about it, please don’t hesitate to give us a call today on 0161 327 0936.

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