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HCPC launches consultation on standards of proficiency for social workers in England

04/04/2016 - 11:42

Consultation on standards of proficiency for social workers in England

The Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) has today launched a consultation to invite stakeholders for their views on proposed changes to the profession-specific standards of proficiency for social workers in England .

The standards of proficiency are the threshold standards for safe and effective practice in the UK and play a key role in public protection. They are divided into generic standards (which apply to all of the 16 professions we regulate) and standards specific to each of the professions regulated. They are used when an individual professional applies for or renews their registration, or when concerns are raised about their competence. They are also used to approve education and training programmes.

The review is an opportunity to make sure the standards of proficiency are relevant to each profession. No appropriate or useful standards will be lost, but the language used may change to ensure the standards are appropriate and applicable to individual professions. Where it is appropriate to do so, we also aim to maintain as much consistency as possible between different professions.

We have proposed a small number of new standards, including the following:

• being able to identify strategies for professional resilience
• working effectively whilst holding alternative, competing explanations in mind (4.5). This is intended to augment the existing standard (4.4) about making informed judgements on complex issues, based on available information.
• understanding the principles of information governance and the safe use of health and social care information
• being able to present reports in formal settings
• understanding the concept of leadership and its application to practice

Director of Policy and Standards, Michael Guthrie, said:

“We committed to reviewing the standards of proficiency for social workers in England once we had concluded a three year programme of visits to pre-registration education and training programmes. It is important to ensure the standards continue to be set at an appropriate level for entry to the HCPC Register and that they reflect the current practice.

“We will analyse the responses after the consultation and publish the final standards as approved by our Council. We will then work with education and training providers to phase them in.”

These consultations will be of interest to social workers in England, relevant education providers, employers, professional bodies, and those who use the services of this profession.

The consultation will run from 1 April 2016 to 24 June 2016.

For further press information, please contact Grant Imlach or Rebekah Tailor in HCPC’s press office on 020 7840 9806 or email

 Notes to Editors:

1. You can respond to this consultation in the following ways.

• By completing our easy-to-use online survey (link)

• By emailing us at:

• By writing to us at the following address:

Consultation on standards of proficiency for social workers in England
Policy and Standards Department
Health and Care Professions Council
Park House
184 Kennington Park Road
SE11 4BU

2. We do not normally accept responses by telephone or in person. We normally ask that consultation responses are made in writing to ensure that we can accurately record what you would like to say. If you are unable to respond in writing please contact us on +44 (0)20 7840 9815 to discuss any reasonable adjustments which would help you to respond.

3. Please complete the online survey or send us your response by 24 June 2016. We look forward to receiving your comments.

4. The Health and Care Professions Council is an independent regulator set up by the Health and Social Work Professions Order 2001. The HCPC keeps a register for 16 different health and care 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 professionals who do not meet these standards or who use a protected title illegally.

5. The HCPC currently regulates 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 see

Arts therapists
Biomedical scientists
Chiropodists / podiatrists
Clinical scientists
Hearing aid dispensers
Occupational therapists
Operating department practitioners
Practitioner psychologists
Prosthetists / orthotists
Social workers in England
Speech and language therapists

6. The HCPC regulates social workers in England. Social workers in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales are separately regulated by the relevant Care Council in that country.

7. To contact us via social media, use the Twitter handle @The_HCPC or search the Health and Care Professions Council on Facebook or LinkedIn.


Rebekah Tailor
(0)20 7840 9806

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