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A Subject of Concern: The experiences of social workers referred to the Health and Care Professions Council

Worsley, A and McLaughlin, KG and Leigh, J (2017) A Subject of Concern: The experiences of social workers referred to the Health and Care Professions Council. British Journal of Social Work. ISSN 0045-3102

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Abstract

In order to practise social work in England, all social workers must register with the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC). Only those who are registered can legally work as or call themselves a social worker. Once registered, if concerns about their practice are raised, social workers may find they are then made subject to a ‘Fitness to Practise’ (FTP) process. This article reports on the findings from interviews with social workers who were referred to the HCPC for practice issues. Our rationale was to hear and report on the lived experience of those going through the investigatory process. We carried out semi-structured interviews with eight social workers and used thematic analysis to analyse our data. The three main themes to emerge from our findings were organisational issues, representation and cost and emotional toll. This paper discusses these findings in detail. We suggest that the current regulatory system situates social workers in a position of disadvantage during the FTP process, and conclude by making a number of recommendations for consideration if future changes are to be made to the social work regulatory process.

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