A social care leader has called into question the General Social Care Council’s long-term future following the latest in a series of delays to the extension of the social care register in England.
The Department of Health said this week that plans to extend the register to home care workers on a voluntary basis next year had been put on hold to enable the GSCC to concentrate on improving its conduct function. Extending the register to home care staff, which was originally due in April 2007, would increase pressure on the conduct system, by bringing the group under its ambit alongside social workers and social work students.
However, Nick Johnson, chief executive of sector professional body the Social Care Association, warned this week’s decision left England lagging behind the other UK countries on registration.
“If the GSCC is to function in the longer term it urgently needs to open the register to someone other than social workers, to catch up with the other countries,” he said.
In Scotland and Wales, registration has been extended to a range of other staff groups, while in Northern Ireland plans were announced in August to register all staff by 2013.
The GSCC has repeatedly pressed the DH to proceed more quickly with registration.
Johnson said he was also “disappointed” that the latest delay in home carer registration had not prompted a review of the order in which groups should be registered.
He said the SCA had previously objected to home care staff being the next group to register because of their high turnover and low pay, favouring managers and professionals instead.
The GSCC’s management of its conduct system has come under the spotlight after the GSCC identified a backlog of over 200 cases in July, prompting the suspension of chief executive Mike Wardle and a review of its conduct function.
The GSCC said it had no comment on the announcement at this stage.
● February 2006 – DH announces plan to register home and residential care staff from April 2007.
● February 2007 – DH says home care staff alone would be registered from late 2007/early 2008.
● February 2008 – Minister Ivan Lewis says he hopes registration will begin in summer 2008.
● April 2009 – DH announces home care registration will begin in 2010.
● October 2009 – Registration plan suspended