The past nine months have flown by in a wave of activity since I joined Social Work England as head of adjudication. In this role, I have overall responsibility for both our case examiner function and hearings function. Our aim is to make the fitness to practise process less stressful for everyone involved, whilst fulfilling our ultimate role of protecting the public.
Following extensive consultation with the sector, we have developed an approach that aligns good regulatory practice with good social work practice. I’m looking forward to utilising this approach with my newly recruited team of 14 case examiners, as well as hearing your views on our proposed sanctions guidance. Thank you if you’ve contributed to our recent consultation on this. The guidance will ensure we make proportionate and consistent decisions daily.
What are case examiners?
Case examiners are responsible for making decisions on the best course of action once a case has been considered at the triage and investigation stages.
Our lay case examiners bring experience from many different backgrounds but have never been registered as a social worker. Our professional case examiners are registered and practising social workers who will share their sector expertise. This is the first time that I’ve directly managed a group of social workers, giving me a huge amount of insight into some of the day to day challenges that they face.
As well as internal training, we are also benefiting from the knowledge of our regional engagement leads and the collaboration of several organisations in the sector.
How do they decide what happens with a case?
Having worked in regulation for several years, I understand the stress and anguish that a fitness to practise case can cause and believe our process reduces the amount of time a case takes to complete.
The case examiners will receive a case report from the investigation team which will outline the nature of the concerns. They will take into consideration the report, any response from the social worker and any further relevant information, such as a medical report or a response from a representative acting on behalf of the social worker.
If the case examiners decide that there is a realistic prospect, they will be given the opportunity to make use of our accepted disposal powers to resolve cases without the need for a contested hearing.
Keep in touch
This is undoubtedly the biggest challenge of my professional career to date but I’m thankful to be supported by a wonderful group of colleagues who are working tirelessly to ensure we get everything in place ready for 2 December when we become the regulator. You can keep up to date with progress and find out how the transition affects you here on our website and on Twitter and LinkedIn.
Phillip is the head of adjudication at Social Work England and is responsible for both the case examiner and hearings functions within the fitness to practise department. Having previously worked within the adjudication departments for over eight years at the HCPC and NMC, he is an experienced regulatory manager and is used to dealing with change management and supporting vulnerable individuals during fitness to practise hearings. Before starting his career in healthcare regulation, Phillip previously worked for both the NHS and the private healthcare sector.