Our Employment Solicitors Manchester specialist for social workers involved in the healthcare and care provision sectors, offer representation in any case under investigation by either:
- The Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC)
- The Care Council for Wales (CCFW)throughout England.
The Regulatory Process
On the 1st August 2012, the General Social Care Council (GSCC) was replaced by the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) to carry out the regulation of social workers throughout England.
The NCTL disciplinary process
The investigation will comprise of an initial assessment to examine the status of the claim. If the situation is deemed to be of a serious enough nature, an interim prohibition order will be granted to prevent the accused staff member from continuing within a teaching role.
A formal investigation will be carried out, whereby the accused staff member has 28 days to supply evidence in their defence.
If the National College for Teaching and Leadership decide the case is valid in accordance with all the facts, it will be referred to a hearing before the Professional Conduct Panel.
The Professional Conduct Panel will normally be made up of 3 members, including professional and lay members. Witnesses may be called to offer evidence at this hearing.
The panel will aim to reach a decision with regard to the case and the accused member of staff, made on the balance of probabilities, whether or not to recommend a prohibition order. If a prohibition order is recommended to the Secretary of State, and they agree, the accused will no longer be allowed to teach and be added to a prohibition list.
A teacher can appeal to the High Court against a prohibition order within 28 days of the order being served.
Depending on the term of the prohibition order, a review may be applied for. If the order is suitable for review, and this must be after a period of not less than 2 years, the subject of the prohibition order may apply to have the order reversed.
The regulation of teachers was carried out by the General Teaching Council for Wales (GTCW) until 2015 when they were replaced by the Education Workforce Council (EWC) under the rules of the Education (Wales) Act 2014.
The Health and Care Professions Council disciplinary process
Where there is a concern of a social worker’s fitness to practice, the issue will be raised with the Health and Care Professions Council. A case manager will then make an investigation. They will be responsible for notifying the social worker, who has 28 days to make a formal response to the allegation.
The case manager presents the inquiry to a panel of members within the investigating committee. They will decide whether or not the case is appropriate for a formal hearing. If so, then a solicitor must prepare the case for the hearing on behalf of the Health and Care Professions Council.
A solicitor working on behalf of the Health and Care Professions Council will present the case at the hearing.
Matters pertaining to convictions or cautions, determinations by another regulator, misconduct, lack of competence, and decisions on barring a professional, will be presented to a panel made up of the Conduct and Competence Committee.
Matters pertaining to cases where the health of the social worker is believed to be affecting their decision-making will be presented to a panel of the Health Committee.
Matters pertaining to fraudulent or incorrect registration will be presented to a panel of the Investigating Committee.
All evidence is to be presented to the committee by both the accused and the prosecution. Witnesses may be called if relevant. The social worker must be given every opportunity to present any evidence in their defence.
If the Health and Care Professions Council proves the case against the solicitor on the balance of probabilities, then they are in a position to administer one of the following actions:
- Take no further action
- Order mediation to find a suitable solution to all parties
- Caution the social worker – a warning should be added to their registration details and should remain there for between 1 to 5 years
- Implement practice conditions on the social worker
- Suspend the social worker
- Remove the social worker from the working register to prevent the social worker from practising
The social worker has the right to appeal against any decision and sanction imposed by the Health and Care Professions Council to the High Court.
In Wales, the regulation of social workers is managed by the Care Council for Wales (CCFW). When investigating any case brought against a social worker the Care Council for Wales is permitted to authorise an interim suspension order that can last up to 6 months, for as long as the initial investigation takes place.
The Care Council for Wales disciplinary process
An investigating officer is allocated to present all the findings of an initial evaluation to a Preliminary Proceedings Committee.
The Preliminary Proceedings Committee will decide if there is just cause to present a case. If found to be so, the hearing will be referred to one of the following:
Matters pertaining to convictions, misconduct, incompetence, determinations by other regulators, and barring decisions will be presented to a panel of the Conduct Committee.
Matters pertaining to health problems will be presented to a panel of the Health Committee.
Evidence from both sides should be presented, including calling witnesses wherever relevant and appropriate. The social worker must be allowed every opportunity to make a complete defence.
If the committee involved decides that the case against the social worker has been proved on the balance of probabilities, they can administer one of the following actions:
- Take no action
- Issue a warning
- Suspend the social worker for up to 2 years
- Remove the social worker from the working register
The social worker can appeal to the High Court against any decision or sanction made by the Care Council for Wales.
Internal disciplinary proceedings
Our specialist employment law solicitors will be happy to represent any social worker involved in internal disciplinary proceedings being carried out by their employer or line manager.
Representation for social workers in cases of regulatory proceedings
If you are subject to proceedings carried out by the Health and Care Professions Council or the Care Council for Wales in respect of your role as a social worker, please contact us on 0161 82 11 559, or complete the form on our enquiry page. One of our dedicated team will contact you as soon as possible to discuss your case, possible outcomes and all of your available options.