The first steps to building an efficient and proportionate fitness to practise process

I’m delighted to join Social Work England as executive director of fitness to practise at such a critical time in our journey to become the new specialist regulator of the social work profession in England.

I have worked in health and social care regulation for over ten years and have contributed to a range of improvement programmes in the sector, with a particular focus on strategic, collaborative investigation and proportionate adjudication. Joining Social Work England at this stage provides a unique opportunity to be part of a leadership team at the very beginning of this journey.

To ensure we are prepared to regulate we need to appoint a range of staff including investigators, advisers and inspectors. This will be one of my first priorities alongside developing safe, effective and proportionate rules for fitness to practise investigations. In the new year (subject to the clearance of the appointment rules currently out for consultation) we will be advertising for a range of roles for social workers and other professionals including fitness to practise investigators, specialist advisers, case examiners and hearing panellists. Do watch out for those being advertised on our website and share with your networks.

Under the legal framework that governs our organisation we are committed to consult on such appointments. This will inform how we appoint advisers for example, together with the skills, knowledge and experience needed for education approval inspectors and requirements and restrictions for adjudicators, case examiners or investigators in fitness to practise proceedings.

We are working in partnership with the profession and those with an interest in social work to develop fitness to practise rules that will enable a fully functioning investigation structure, alongside a fair and independent adjudication process.  All open cases in fitness to practise will be transferred safely and effectively from HCPC into the Social Work England fitness to practise process and the rules will allow us to progress new and transitioned cases in a transparent, efficient and proportionate manner.

We have published our proposals for the rules and would welcome your comments before 5pm on Wednesday 19 December.  We have set out for your feedback a number of new, progressive measures including:

  • Powers to resolve cases through consensual measures in suitable circumstances, without the need for public hearings.
  • Responsive decision-making powers allowing for more efficient and cost-effective use of adjudicators.
  • Strategic case management provisions that promote a risk-based approach.
  • A modernised framework for hearings, which offers better support for registrants and witnesses involved in the process.

We believe Social Work England has the potential to make a real difference, raising standards to improve the status of the profession and ultimately ensure people get the right support whenever they might need it in life.

We know from our engagement events that many of you share that vision and we’d welcome those with an interest to join our conversation to ensure we get this right.

Share your views in our consultation here.

Jonathan Dillon

Jonathan Dillon

Jon is the executive director of fitness to practise and is an experienced senior manager with a background in safeguarding and public policy. He has specialised in health and social care regulation since 2007 and has played a key role in the migration of social work regulation from the General Social Care Council to the Health and Care Professions Council in 2012. As head of adjudications at the General Dental Council, he led a significant change and improvement programme with a focus on safe and effective practice, proportionate adjudication and enhanced collaboration.