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Health Professions Council (HPC) consultation on the registration of social work students in England

Delegates register at an event - (c) Niall Kennedy

At the Health Professions Council’s (HPC) Council meeting on 10 May, the outcome of the consultation on the registration of social work students in England and the students of other professions was announced.

The HPC does not currently register the students of any of the 15 professions that it regulates. However, it is permitted to open voluntary registers for certain groups following a consultation and an assessment of the impact of regulation in terms of public protection and cost. Social work students are currently registered in England by the GSCC and by the other Care Councils in Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales.

The HPC had previously consulted the sector on student registration between 1 November 2011 and 2 March 2012. The consultation asked about the registration of social work students and the registration of students of other professions. The HPC received 126 responses to the consultation. Out of these, 48 per cent said that social work students should be registered, 21 per cent said that they should not and the rest either did not know or did not answer the question. However, of those who responded from the social care and social work sector, 89 per cent said that social work students should be registered, six per cent said that they should not and the rest either did not know or did not answer the question.

Following analysis of the consultation responses and the independent research commissioned, HPC’s Council agreed that there would not be a student register for the professions it currently regulates in the long term. Penny Thompson the GSCC expressing disappointment in the decision and saying that the GSCC would continue to work with the HPC and the Department of Health to highlight the impact of this change on public protection.

In the short term, social work students registered with the GSCC on 31 July 2012 will be transferred over to the HPC, so it is important that students keep their details up-to-date. The HPC's Council will be making a final decision on social work student registration in the coming months and they will publish the outcome of the decision and guidance for students, so keep an eye on the HPC’s website .

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