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Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) takes over the regulation of social workers in England

01/08/2012 - 00:01

Social workers in England regulation transferred to HCPC today

The Health and Care Professions Council (HPC) formerly the Health Professions Council, today assumes responsibility for the regulation of social workers in England, from the General Social Care Council (GSCC) which was abolished on 31 July 2012.

Social workers now have to meet the HCPC standards of proficiency which are competency standards relevant to their area of practice. They also have to meet the standards of conduct, performance and ethics. These are overarching standards that apply to all of the 16 health and care professions HCPC regulates. Both sets of HCPC standards play a key role in ensuring public protection by making sure that social workers in England will have the competency, knowledge, values and behaviour expected of them by members of the public and employers alike.

The HCPC is responsible for setting standards, approving and monitoring education and training programmes for social workers in England and as well as investigating  concerns raised about them.

Marc Seale, the HPC’s Chief Executive said:

“Social workers in England play an important role in our society and we welcome them to the HCPC register. We have worked with stakeholders from the social work community in drafting our standards and to ensure a smooth transition.  We will continue our commitment to working with the social work community to improve standards.”

The HCPC has more enhanced and widespread powers than the GSCC. The HCPC can investigate concerns raised about social workers in England, and, in the most serious cases, can suspend a social worker in England, whilst an investigation is carried out.  The HCPC can also consider more grounds for complaints which will be new for social workers, including lack of competence and have a wider range of sanctions, including suspensions orders which are reviewed by a panel. HCPC can also impose conditions of practice orders and have powers to demand information from employers and others if needed for a hearing, something that was not available under GSCC.

New research released by Opinion Matters to coincide with the change in regulation shows that nearly half of people who have used social workers did not check that their social worker was registered and fit to practice. Almost a quarter did not even know social workers needed to be registered to practice. HCPC have a public register, and encourage service users and employers alike to check it to ensure their professional is registered.

Marc added;

“Anyone using the services of a social worker can check with us to see if their social worker is registered. If then they are not happy with the service they receive, whether that’s the level of professional skills, or the individual’s behaviour, they can take it up with us and we will investigate further.  If we find they have fallen below our standards we can take action in a number of ways including striking them off the Register. The HCPC can also prosecute those who pretend to be registered.”

Results also revealed that two thirds of people believe that social workers are portrayed negatively by the media and only 16% felt social workers are fairly represented.  In contrast over 80% believe social workers do a good job in their community, while a similar number believe these workers they have a very difficult job to do.

Anna van der Gaag, HCPC Chair said:

“We welcome social workers in England on to our Register, we have worked closely with the social worker community and particularly the GSCC over the past two years to ensure the handover would be a success. I would like to thank all those involved in the transfer and look forward to working with the social work community in the future.”


Notes to Editors:

1. From 1 August 2012, HPC will regulate social workers in England. At that time, we will be renamed the Health and Care Professions Council to reflect our new remit and the diverse range of professions on our Register. We will also use the strapline “Regulating health, psychological and social work professions

2. Our Chief Executive, Marc Seale will be in the studio tomorrow taking live questions for web TV. Post your questions online here

3. In 2010, the Department of Health published ‘liberating the NHS: Report of the arm’s-length bodies review’. That report said that the government intended to transfer the regulation of social workers in England to the Health Professions Council. Since then, the government has published the Health and Social Care Bill, which includes provisions for the transfer of regulation from the GSCC to the HPC. The Health and Social Care Act received Royal Assent on 27 March 2012

4.  The research for HPC was carried out online by Opinion Matters between 03 - 11 / 07 / 2012 amongst a panel resulting in 1,683 respondents. All research conducted adheres to the MRS Codes of Conduct (2010) in the UK and ICC/ESOMAR World Research Guidelines. Opinion Matters is registered with the Information Commissioner's Office and is fully compliant with the Data Protection Act (1998).

5. For more information please contact Ebony Gayle, HCPC’s Media and Public Relations Manager, on 020 7840 9784 or email  or call the Communications Department on 020 7840 9806 or email

6. The Health and Care Professions Council is an independent, UK-wide regulator. The HCPC keeps a register for 16 different professions and only  registers people who meet the standards it sets for their training, professional skills, behaviour and health. The HCPC will take action against people who do not meet the set standards or who use a protected title illegally.

7. HCPC currently regulate the following 16 professions. Each of these professions has one or more ‘protected titles’. Anyone who uses one of these titles must register with the HCPC. To see the full list of protected titles please

·  Arts therapists
·  Biomedical scientists
·  Chiropodists and podiatrists
·  Clinical scientists
·  Dietitians
·  Hearing aid dispensers
·  Occupational therapists
·  Operating department practitioners
·  Orthoptists
·  Paramedics
·  Physiotherapists
·  Practitioner psychologists
·  Prosthetists and orthotists
·  Radiographers
·  Social workers in England
·  Speech and language therapists

Ebony Gayle
+44 (0)20 7840 9784

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