The General Social Care Council has called on the government to drop requirements for social workers to declare physical or
mental health conditions when applying for registration.
In a letter to health minister Ben Bradshaw, GSCC chair Rodney Brooke described the Care Standards Act 2000 requirement as “an unnecessary and discriminatory barrier”.
Brooke said: “We believe it is up to individuals and their employers to manage their health condition and it is up to them, rather than the regulator, to decide whether they are able to perform their duties.”
The GSCC wants the Department of Health to remove the requirement through an amendment to the Health and Social Care Bill.
This move by the GSCC follows a 12-month investigation by the former Disability Rights Commission, which found last
September that health-based fitness to practice standards led to “discriminatory attitudes, policies and practices”.
GSCC chief executive Mike Wardle said the regulator had reviewed its position on this legal duty since 2004, but not had sufficient evidence to call for change until the DRC report.
Nushra Mansuri, professional officer at British Association of Social Workers, welcomed the GSCC’s decision. She said: “If we can’t adhere to supporting people from diverse backgrounds in social work, then there is something desperately wrong in a profession that champions equal opportunities.”
Neil Crowther, disability programme director at the Equality and Human Rights Commission, which succeeded the DRC last
October, also backed the move and urged other regulatory bodies to follow suit.
Scrapping health standards would be “excellent”
|One of the cases that inspired the DRC investigation was that of Peter Van der Gucht. A social worker with 30 years’ experience, he challenged a GSCC rulingthat he could only register with conditions because he had bipolar affectivedisorder. The GSCC denied discrimination but in September 2005, a monthbefore the case was set to go before a tribunal, it backed down. Van derGucht said the GSCC’s call to scrap health standards was “excellent news”.“ To say that someone, who has a mental health problem, is a risk to clientsis an absurdity”, said Van der Gucht.|
Contact the authorCaroline Lovell