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Restoration after removal order

Guidance for adjudicators and applicants about restoration after removal orders, the processes to follow when applying for restoration and how the adjudicators should determine these applications.

Guidance on restoration to the register after removal order

Last updated: 5 December 2019

About this guidance

This page provides guidance to adjudicators and applicants about:

  • restoration after removal orders
  • the processes to follow when applying for restoration
  • how the adjudicators should determine these applications.

Requirements for applications

A person whose name has been removed from the register by a removal order (rather than automatic removal) can apply to be restored to the register any time from 5 years after the removal order took effect (Social Workers Regulations 2018 Regulation 15(4)).

For the avoidance of doubt, this means the date on which the name was removed, for example after the appeal period or after any appeal was determined. It does not mean the date the removal order was directed by the adjudicators.

Anyone whose name was removed through automatic removal may not apply to be restored unless the conviction that led to the automatic removal was quashed or overturned (Social Workers Regulations 2018 Regulation 15(2)).

If a person’s application for restoration has been heard and rejected, they may not make another application for 12 months. Under Social Work England’s regulations, a person is eligible to apply for restoration if they:

  • have met any requirements for additional education, training and experience as decided by Social Work England
  • meet the requirements for initial registration and
  • have not, in the preceding 12 months, made an application for registration which was refused.

Under Social Work England’s fitness to practise rules(rule 18), an application for restoration must be made in writing and must include the following:

  • certificates of any relevant education or training courses from Social Work England’s education and training approval scheme undertaken since the direction for removal was made (including during any appeal period or while an appeal was determined)
  • details of any employment, paid or unpaid, undertaken since the direction for removal was made (including during any appeal period or while an appeal was determined) and
  • indication of whether the applicant wishes to appear before the adjudicators at a hearing and be represented.

The application may also include any testimonials or other that supports the person’s application for restoration. 

Social Work England is entitled to reject any application that does not meet these requirements without referring it to the adjudicators.

How will the adjudicators determine applications for restoration?

The burden is on the applicant to convince the panel that they’re eligible to have their name restored to the register (General Medical Council v Lamming [2017] EWHC 3309 (Admin)).

This means, during an oral restoration hearing, the applicant should usually make their case to the panel first. The case presenter for Social Work England may then respond. However, in some cases, the panel may find it helpful to invite Social Work England’s representative to speak first, providing both parties have consented.

As with everything we do, our overarching objective (Section 37 Children and Social Work Act 2017) must be taken into consideration when making decisions about applications for restoration. This overarching objective is the protection of the public. This is broken down further into the following:

  • to protect, promote and maintain the health, safety and wellbeing of the public
  • to promote and maintain public confidence in social workers in England
  • to promote and maintain proper professional standards for social workers in England.

Panels must consider our this when determining applications. Any decision reasoning should explain how they’ve taken into account each of the 3 areas of the objective. In the case of GMC v Chandra [2018] EWCA Civ 1898, the Court of Appeal considered the approach to be adopted by the GMC when considering applications for restoration.

The principles also apply to our fitness to practise framework. These principles are as follows:

  • Panels should apply the same test for restorations as they do for sanction. In relation to our overarching objective, this is asking: is the person fit to practise?
  • The question of whether the person is fit to practise does not require an additional layer of whether there are exceptional circumstances to warrant restoration. The issue is solely whether the person is fit to practise.
  • The principles set out in Bolton v Law Society [1994] 1 WLR 512 are also relevant. Panels must also consider the need to maintain public confidence in the profession and that the reputation of the profession as a whole is of greater significance than that of an individual member of the profession.
  • When considering applications for restoration, the panel should approach their decision in two distinct stages:
  1. First, they should consider the matters which led to the removal and the evidence of insight, remorse and remediation. They should then make findings about those matters.
  2. Secondly, if they make positive findings as to insight, remorse and remediation, the panel should step back and balance the findings against each of the 3 limbs of our overarching objective. This will help them to consider the case overall, including the length of time since the removal, and decide whether the restoration would promote and maintain public confidence and proper professional standards. Ultimately, it will allow them to decide, despite the serious nature of the original matters which led to removal, whether our overarching objective of protecting the public be achieved?

The Court of Appeal in Chandra also referenced the case of CHRE v NMC and Grant [2011] EWHC 927 and confirmed that it applies equally to restoration cases. The outcome of that case included that ‘the [panel] should therefore have asked themselves not only whether the registrant continued to present a risk to members of the public, but whether the need to uphold proper professional standards and public confidence in the registrant and in the profession would be undermined if a finding of impaired fitness to practise were not made in the circumstances of this case’.

They should also be very careful not to combine the separate parts of the two stage test. For example, they should not implicitly find that public confidence would be maintained by restoration because the social worker had remediated and so was no longer a risk.

Successful remediation maybe enough to maintain public confidence, but panels must give distinct consideration to the questions of promoting and maintaining public confidence and proper professional standards. Panels may find it helpful to reference the two stage test explicitly in their determinations and to provide reasons for their decision under each stage of the test.

Restoring with a conditions of practice order

The social workers regulations give the adjudicators the power to restore social workers to the register and then to impose a conditions of practice order (Regulation 15(6) Social Workers Regulations 2018).

Examples of where conditions of practice orders after restoration may be appropriate are:

  • If the social worker has successfully completed training courses to address competence concerns but will only be able to put their training to practical application with registration. A period of supervised practice may be appropriate while the social worker demonstrates they can successfully apply their training in practical settings.
  • If health was one of several grounds of impairment, all other grounds have been satisfactorily addressed, and the health concerns can be safely managed through conditions of practice such as medical supervision.

It is not be appropriate to use conditions of practice orders as a means of mitigating real risk. For example, requiring chaperones for a social worker whose name was removed for sexual misconduct is not appropriate.

If panels determine that person continues to pose a real risk to public safety, they should refuse the restoration application, regardless of whether a conditions of practice order could mitigate the risk. 

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