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Social workers who cannot communicate in English could be struck off

Politics / Wed 2nd Apr 2014 am30 09:41am

social3SOCIAL workers who cannot communicate clearly in English could be banned from practice if the government accepts a series of reforms proposed by the three UK Law Commissions today.

Ministers would also have the power to introduce a licence to practise and system of revalidation for social workers in England, if the draft bill is approved; an approach the chief social worker for children and families, Isabelle Trowler, is currently exploring reports CommunityCare Daily.

In today’s report, the Law Commissions of England and Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland recommend the creation of a single statute for the regulation of health and care professionals.

This would standardise the powers, duties and responsibilities of the nine main UK-wide regulatory bodies, including the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC), which regulates social workers in England. The draft bill does not cover the devolved social work regulators in Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales.

The bill, which is subject to government approval, recommends extending the list of reasons why a regulator could consider a registrant’s fitness to practise to be impaired to include “insufficient knowledge of the English language”. Registrants could face sanctions or removal from the register.

It also recommends that the government should have regulation-making powers to introduce or authorise systems of revalidation for any of the regulated professions.

The Law Commissions shied away from imposing revalidation on the regulators directly, on the basis that “the introduction of any such system could be expensive and costly” for some of the organisations involved.

Other recommendations that could affect social care workers include:

The government should have the power to enable the introduction of compulsory student registration for any regulated profession

All registered professionals should be practising or intend to practise; anyone else should be moved to a supplementary register

The government should have powers to establish barring schemes, to be run by the regulators

The range of sanctions available to regulators should extend to: advice, warnings, conditions, suspension and removal from the register. Panels would also be able to agree undertakings and voluntary removal

The Professional Standards Authority would be required to review the economic efficiency of the regulators, to ensure they are providing value for money

Then health secretary Andrew Lansley commissioned the report in September 2010, announcing it in the subsequent white paper, Enabling Excellence. The commissions’ remit was to review the UK law relating to the regulation of health care professionals and, in England only, the regulation of social workers.

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