BASW conference: EU urged to regulate social workers

Social workers in the European Union who are barred or suspended in their home countries could still practice in other member states because of a lack of regulation, the International Federation of Social Workers has warned.

David N Jones, IFSW president, said he believed service users could be put at risk as more practioners chose to work abroad. He called for greater regulation of social workers across Europe to stop “dangerous practitioners” moving around.

Healthcare regulation
Jones cited an EU-wide voluntary agreement for healthcare workers launched in 2006, called Healthcare Professionals Crossing Borders, as an equivalent project to flag up healthcare professionals with criminal records or those found guilty of misconduct.

He raised concerns over the lack of any international data-sharing systems to detect individuals who fail to declare restrictions on their practice. “There is a need for a formal mechanism by agreement of all the members of the EU to share information about dangerous practitioners,” he told BASW conference delegates.

MEPs support
Jones said the issue would be discussed with other member organisations at the IFSW meeting in Portugal in May. “If there’s agreement we will try to build up support in the European Parliament via MEPs,” he said.

Brendan Johnston, chief executive of Northern Ireland Social Care Council, agreed there was a “huge issue” surrounding registration of social workers throughout Europe.

“There’s no such thing as a national workforce anymore,” he told the conference.

Essential information on social care workforce

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