In the latest Professional Standards Authority for Health and Social Care (PSA) Performance Review of Social Work England (SWE), the PSA found the regulator met 17 of the 18 standards but failed in one because it was “taking too long to resolve fitness to practise cases”.

The Standards of Good Regulation covers:

  • general standards
  • guidance and standards
  • education and training
  • registration
  • fitness to practise

SWE’s performance in relation to fitness to practise improved this year, meeting 4 of the 5 standards, compared to 3 of the 5 in the previous year. However, SWE continued to face challenges in our fitness to practise process and did not meet standard 15:

‘The regulator’s process for examining and investigating cases is fair, proportionate, deals with cases as quickly as is consistent with a fair resolution of the case and ensures that appropriate evidence is available to support decision-makers to reach a fair decision that protects the public at each stage of the process.’

The Authority found that SWE were taking too long to resolve fitness to practise cases. It recognised that SWE had made progress with concluding the cases inherited from the previous regulator (the Health and Care Professions Council). It also noted that SWE had taken positive actions to address the concerns that were raised in the previous review. However, it was too early to assess the impact of these actions.

It said that timeliness had not improved, and SWE were unlikely to meet our targets on the age of our caseload. This was because it could not reduce the number of cases awaiting a hearing due to the level of budget available to increase hearings capacity.

UK Fitness to Practise News

Colum Conway, chief executive of Social Work England, said:

“We welcome the review and feedback from the Professional Standards Authority and are pleased that we have once again improved our performance. We have met all but one of the standards, continuing our progress since we were established. The review will help us to continually improve as a regulator and bring about positive change to the social work profession.
“We have always worked closely with people with lived and learned experience of social work to understand the successes and challenges of regulation and the social work profession. The review praised how we shared this valuable learning, insight and research in our comprehensive State of the nation report.
“The review recognised that we continued to face challenges in our fitness to practise process and this was the reason that we did not achieve one of the standards. It highlighted that we have taken several positive actions to streamline and improve this. Whilst these actions have made improvements to this key element of our regulation, we agree that we can only improve timescales by increasing our capacity to hold hearings. We will do everything we can to do this within our resources.”

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