Colum Conway, chief government, Social Work England
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Social Work England fell in need of requirements on assessing the chance of health to practise referrals, processing registrations and recording the variety of the workforce in its first yr, its personal watchdog has discovered.
The Professional Standards Authority (PSA) judged the regulator to have met 15 of its 18 “requirements of excellent regulation” from December 2019 to November 2020 however stated it wanted to enhance in three areas.
Social Work England welcomed the report, printed by the PSA final week, and vowed to fulfill all 18 requirements in future assessments.
Within the report printed final week, the PSA praised Social Work England for its engagement with the sector since turning into regulator, saying different organisations had given it optimistic suggestions on this.
It stated it had “engaged constructively with suggestions and…proven dedication to enchancment”, and, within the context of the pandemic, had made “encouraging begin” to its function as regulator.
The PSA stated that Social Work England had met its health to practise (FtP) requirements in relation to elevating considerations, honest investigations, applicable decision-making processes and efficient participation.
It additionally acknowledged the extreme challenges the regulator confronted in its first yr as a result of influence of the pandemic on its potential to course of FtP circumstances, higher-than-expected referrals and the state of the 1,545 circumstances it inherited from the Well being and Care Professions Council (HCPC). Social Work England discovered simply 10% of circumstances that the HCPC recognized as able to schedule for a listening to to be full, regardless of the common age of the legacy circumstances being virtually a yr.
Threat evaluation failings
Nonetheless, the PSA discovered Social Work England had not met the usual to determine and prioritise all health to practise circumstances that urged “a severe danger to the security of service customers” and search interim orders the place applicable.
Firstly, it discovered that Social Work England was not making selections about interim orders promptly sufficient in legacy circumstances. The time it took Social Work England to make these selections elevated in the course of the yr, from 51.7 weeks on common (together with their time with the HCPC) to 80.1 weeks. It additionally raised considerations about case examiners – who assessment a case following an investigation – making selections about interim orders, and stated that in a small variety of circumstances examiners had made referrals for interim orders on the idea of knowledge out there earlier within the course of.
The second difficulty raised by the PSA below this normal was that Social Work England didn’t do full danger assessments on the triage stage for many of the assessment interval, so it didn’t show that it might determine and prioritise increased danger circumstances. It stated this had improved since August 2020 when, following a assessment, it began requiring workers to do full danger assessments at this stage.
The PSA additionally discovered that Social Work England failed, on quite a few events, to comply with its personal coverage on recording danger assessments by not doing so when new data emerged.
Nonetheless, the PSA stated it didn’t see any circumstances the place the regulator didn’t act appropriately on data growing the chance stage on a case.
“We are going to monitor Social Work England’s work to study from interim order referrals, such because the institution of its investigation assessment group shortly after the tip of our assessment interval, and any additional modifications it makes in consequence,” stated the PSA’s report.
“Nonetheless, primarily based on the vary of considerations we recognized and the significance of efficient danger evaluation, we decided that this normal will not be met this yr.”
Social Work England stated that, for the reason that assessment interval, it had launched refresher coaching for investigators on danger assessments and interim orders.
It stated it now did full danger assessments earlier within the triage course of, and had carried out additional danger assessments for all excellent legacy investigations “to make sure that these are correct and applicable”.
Slower than different regulators
The PSA stated it was not assured that Social Work England was dealing effectively with registration functions within the interval below assessment.
It stated it took account of the “difficult context” of the Covid-19 pandemic in its resolution, but it surely discovered that its processing was slower than that of the opposite regulators the PSA oversees from April 2020 to March 2021.
“We recognize that there are variations between regulators’ processes and necessities, and we have to take care in evaluating their knowledge,” the report stated. “Nonetheless, the distinction between Social Work England and most different regulators in efficiency towards these measures was putting.”
From April 2020 to December 2020, it processed 77% of UK registration functions requiring no additional investigation inside 10 days, towards a goal of 95%.
Although efficiency improved in the course of the yr, the PSA stated it could anticipate all these utility to be essentially the most easy for a regulator to cope with.
Social Work England stated it was “assured that is not a problem” and was now assembly its targets for processing functions.
The regulator stated it had improved data sharing with different organisations together with schooling and coaching suppliers, elevated pupil consciousness of the registration course of and improved its reporting mechanisms.
‘Not sufficient range knowledge collected’
The PSA additionally discovered that Social Work England didn’t gather sufficient details about the variety of social employees on its register, making it tough for it to evaluate whether or not any of its processes could also be affecting registrants otherwise primarily based on their protected traits.
It recognised that the HCPC didn’t cross on to Social Work England any data relating to registrants’ demographic traits and stated it could take time for the regulator to collect this knowledge.
Nonetheless, the PSA stated Social Work England had “made solely restricted progress throughout its first yr in gathering this necessary data”.
The PSA welcomed the regulator’s equality, range and inclusion (EDI) technique, led by EDI lead Ahmina Akhtar, however this was not finalised and printed till after the assessment interval.
“Social Work England has been clear that it understands how necessary this work is and its relevance to social care,” stated the PSA’s report.
“We’ve got no purpose to doubt its dedication. However given how little data it had concerning the range of its registrants, and the early stage it had reached in its technique work, we couldn’t be assured about its efficiency throughout our assessment interval.”
Social Work England acknowledged that it had made restricted progress in its first yr on this space and stated it was dedicated to assembly the usual in future opinions.
It now collects equality, range and inclusion knowledge from social employees as a part of the registration course of.
Dedication to fulfill requirements
Colum Conway, chief government of Social Work England, stated: “Changing into the regulator for social work was our first necessary step in the course of the interval of this efficiency assessment.
“We’re dedicated to proceed working to fulfill all of the PSA’s requirements of excellent regulation and welcome each the PSA’s annual evaluation and ongoing engagement.”