Social Workers

Jonathan has successfully defended social workers before the General Social Care Council (GSCC) and the Health & Care Professions Council (HCPC).

As of the 2nd December 2019 all complaints about social workers will be handled by Social Work England.

Complaints against and the regulation of social workers moved from the Health & Care Professions Council to Social Work England on 2nd December 2019. This is the third regulator for social workers in 7 years. At the time of writing (coincidentally the 2nd December 2019) very little is known about the panel members and lawyers who will be sitting at the Fitness to Practise hearings. What is clear from the 2019 FTP guidance is that the rules are very different to the old HCPC procedures. In particular there are four stages before a case reaches a final hearing. Hopefully this filter will reduce the number of hearings.

Social Work England have helpfully given social workers some practical guidance on how to ask questions at hearings. This is concerning however as it tends to suggest they are expecting many social workers to represent themselves. This in turn can cause a huge imbalance as the case presenters for SWE will almost always be qualified lawyers.

If you want to redress this imbalance, getting an experienced barrister on board can certainly help. Jonathan has represented social workers at both of the previous regulators. He understands the subtleties involved when questioning exceptionally vulnerable witnesses. He also recognises the immense personal sacrifice endured by many social workers in their daily lives which can sometime affect their judgment.

A Previous Case or two!

Jonathan recently defended a social worker facing multiple allegations concerning his role in a multi-disciplinary team at a private hospital. Unhappy with the internal hospital investigation the complainants reported the case to the Public Service Ombudsman. The Ombudsman identified a number of organisational failings. The complainants also reported the matter to the HCPC. After cross-examining the witnesses Jonathan persuaded the Committee to dismiss the case on the basis that the Council had adduced insufficient and unreliable evidence. As a result the social worker didn’t have to give evidence.

Complaints to Social Work England

Jonathan also recently represented a social worker on an appeal to the Administrative Court. The social worker had previously been “struck off” by the CCC for allegations of dishonesty. One of the substantive grounds of appeal was that the previous legal representation was incompetent. Before the case got to Court the HCPC agreed to reverse the CCC’s decision and re-list the case again. This case demonstrates the importance of having high quality representation when facing serious allegations.

If you are a social worker and are facing a complaint against you or need representation at a Social Work England fitness to practise hearing call Jonathan on 020 7526 4825 or email  info@regulatorydefencelawyer.co.uk for a free no obligation initial consultation.