BASW chief slams regulator for being too soft on social worker misconduct

The General Social Care Council is failing to pick up on many cases where social workers have committed misconduct, the head of the British Association of Social Workers has said.

In an outspoken attack, Ian Johnston lambasted the GSCC for bringing “only a handful” of cases before its conduct hearings system. “The GSCC has not delivered the goods. There are many more cases out there that they could be taking on,” he told Community Care.

He said he wanted the GSCC to focus more on professional issues, such as cases where social workers had failed because their managers had given them tasks they were not skilled to do.

Johnston also hit out at the GSCC’s use of “admonishments” which amounted to putting a caution on a social workers’ entry on the social care register for a limited period, adding: “What kind of punishment is that?” He also claimed the GSCC did not take on more cases because of costs.

“This is not what we campaigned 25 years for,” he said, referring to BASW’s campaign for the registration of social workers that led to the creation of the GSCC in 2001.

There have been more than 900 conduct referrals to the  GSCC, out of which 12 cases have been taken to a public conduct hearing, according to the latest GSCC figures. Two social workers have been struck off the social care register, one has been suspended and nine have received admonishments (see GSCC Conduct Cases).

Rodney Brooke, GSCC chair, defended the conduct system, calling it “robust and fair”. He denied that costs were taken into account when deciding on individual cases, adding that the GSCC was able to handle cases  within available resources.

He said: “It is in the public and profession’s interest, not least on the grounds of cost, that cases are only taken to a hearing stage if there is a real prospect of misconduct being found.”

Brooke added: “If Ian Johnston is interested in how the decisions and sanctions are reached, he and members of the public are welcome to attend a hearing.”


Senior social worker Antony Peter Jacks was struck off last year over his relationship with a 14-year-old female service user at Huntercombe Stafford psychiatric hospital in the West Midlands.

Earlier this year, Southampton social worker Nicholas Martin was struck off for sending and receiving  “offensive, discriminatory and obscene” e-mails.

Darlington social worker Yvonne Doyle was suspended last year for advertising herself as an escort with an internet agency with links to websites associated with prostitution.

● Last week, Anna Orlinski, from Newcastle, was found to have “inappropriately” physically restrained a child on two  occasions, becoming the ninth social worker to receive an admonishment.

Further information
General Social Care Council
British Association of Social Workers

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Contact the author
 Maria Ahmed



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