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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 Professions Council Register) 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 working in the sector, 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 and what this change entails.

What is the HCPC?

The HCPC serves as an independent regulatory body overseeing not only social workers but also a spectrum of healthcare professionals including psychologists, paramedics, chiropodists, and dieticians. Its core mandate revolves around safeguarding the public who can check the register, which maintains a list of health and care professionals who meet our standards for their training professional skills behavior, and health standards, thereby ensuring safe, lawful, and effective practice within the respective domains.

Health Professions Council Register or HCPC Health & Care Professionals Council Logo

What does the HCPC do?

They have a wide range of responsibilities, including:

  • Setting standards for professionals’ education, training, and practice.
  • Good standards form the foundation.
  • Education and training programs
  • 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.

Social Care England Logo

The Transition to Social Work England: A Need for Change

The decision to transition from HCPC to Social Work England stems from critical assessments by the Department for Education (DfE) regarding HCPC’s oversight of social work education programs.

The DfE has expressed concerns about the quality of trainees produced by these programs, citing instances of inadequately prepared professionals grappling with the realities of the industry. By establishing Social Work England, the government aims to exert greater influence over the standards for approving courses, thereby fostering a more robust and responsive educational framework tailored to the demands of the profession.

Navigating the Transition: What to Expect

As the transition unfolds, the HCPC will facilitate the transfer of personal data to Social Work England to establish seamless operational systems. Social Work England will assume key responsibilities such as maintaining a register of social workers, conducting fitness-to-practice hearings, and setting standards for initial education, training, and continuous professional development.

This transition process is designed to ensure continuity of regulatory oversight while enabling Social Work England to enact tailored measures to address emerging challenges within the social work landscape.

Responsibilities Include:

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

Impact on Current HCPC Registrants: Minimal Disruption Expected

For individuals currently registered with the HCPC, the transition to Social Work England is expected to be relatively smooth. Automatic transfer of registration and ongoing support mechanisms will mitigate any potential disruptions to professional practice. Furthermore, registrants will retain the ability to raise concerns with the HCPC until the transition is complete, ensuring continuity of regulatory engagement and oversight.

You can check and find your registration number by logging into the HCPC register online. The Health Professions Council register maintains health and care professionals who meet the standards for their training professional skills behavior and health.

Contrasting Social Work England with HCPC: Key Distinctions

While both Social Work England and the HCPC share the overarching goal of upholding professional standards and safeguarding public welfare, several notable distinctions set them apart:

  • Focus Area: Social Work England’s exclusive focus on social work distinguishes it from the HCPC, which regulates a diverse array of professions.
  • Funding Mechanisms: Social Work England’s ability to receive government funding provides greater financial autonomy compared to the HCPC.
  • Regulatory Scope: Social Work England’s mandate to regulate Approved Mental Health Professionals (AMHPs) and Best Interest Assessors (BIAs) signifies a broader regulatory scope compared to the HCPC.
  • Government Oversight: Unlike the HCPC, which operates independently, Social Work England’s standards and operations are subject to government approval and oversight, ensuring alignment with national policy objectives.

Making sure people trust the professional they are seeing

To check the Register anyone can:

  • Check the profession of the person whose registration you wish to check
  • Search their surname or their registration number*
*A registration number has up to six numbers, and starts with either two or three letters, for example, PH123456.

Recent Developments and Evolving Initiatives

In recent years, the HCPC has undertaken a series of initiatives aimed at enhancing its regulatory functions and adapting to the evolving healthcare and social work landscape. These initiatives include:

  • Digital Transformation: Embracing digital platforms for registration, renewal, and communication to streamline administrative processes and enhance user experience.
  • Revised Standards of Education and Training: Regular review and update of educational standards to align with evolving professional roles and industry best practices.
  • Focus on Fitness to Practice: Strengthening fitness-to-practice processes to ensure transparency, timeliness, and adequate support for registrants undergoing investigation or disciplinary proceedings.
  • Expansion of Regulatory Scope: Continuously expanding regulatory scope to encompass additional professions and emerging specialties within healthcare and social work.
  • Stakeholder Engagement: Actively soliciting feedback and insights from stakeholders to foster collaboration, transparency, and shared responsibility for upholding professional standards and public protection.

Looking Ahead: Anticipating Future Developments

As Social Work England assumes its regulatory responsibilities, the social work landscape is poised for further evolution and adaptation. Anticipated developments may include:

  • Enhanced Educational Standards: Continued refinement of educational standards to address emerging challenges and equip professionals with the requisite skills and competencies.
  • Strengthened Regulatory Oversight: Iterative enhancements to regulatory mechanisms to ensure responsiveness to evolving industry dynamics and emerging risks.
  • Collaborative Partnerships: Deepening collaboration with stakeholders to foster innovation, knowledge exchange, and collective problem-solving within the social work community.

Navigating the Transition with Confidence

The transition from the Health Professions Council Register to Social Work England signifies a pivotal moment in the evolution of regulatory frameworks within the social work domain. By embracing this transition with foresight and resilience, stakeholders can navigate the changing landscape with confidence, secure in the knowledge that regulatory oversight remains steadfast in its commitment to safeguarding public welfare and upholding professional standards.

For further inquiries or assistance regarding the transition, please do not hesitate to contact us at 0333 800 1461. We are here to support you every step of the way as we embark on this transformative journey together.

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