GSCC: Registration delay not solely down to conduct issue

The General Social Care Council has endorsed claims that the latest delay to the registration of home care workers was influenced by a debate over what form regulation of the workforce should take.

GSCC chair Rosie Varley said the decision not to proceed with registration next year, taken by both the regulator and Department of Health, was not solely based on the need for the GSCC to concentrate on improving its conduct function.

The latter was the only justification cited in the DH’s original statement on the issue.

DH accused of disingenuousness

This prompted an angry letter to health secretary Andy Burnham from United Kingdom Homecare Association vice-chair Bill McClimont accusing the DH of “disingenuousness”.

McClimont, until recently a member of the GSCC’s governing council, claimed that “the more accurate” reason for the delay was that the DH was considering alternative models other than statutory regulation.

McClimont referred to a DH-commissioned report in July on extending regulation in health. This said statutory regulation, where practitioners must register with a regulator that then monitors standards of conduct and practice, was “likely to be disproportionate” for “large volume groups of workers, such as health care support workers”.

‘Lighter touch’ regulation proposed

It proposed a “lighter touch” model, for instance by giving employers more responsibility for monitoring standards.

McClimont pointed out that health care support workers and care workers were “for all practical purposes indistinguishable”, with both primarily carrying out personal care.

He added that employer-led regulation was totally inappropriate and that statutory regulation was the only way to guarantee the safety of service users.

GSCC conduct issues

In response to McClimont’s letter, a DH spokesperson said that while the DH remained committed to regulating home care workers, it had been put on hold “to enable the GSCC to prioritise work to strengthen its conduct function”, citing no other reason.

However, addressing the GSCC’s annual conference last week, Varley cited “the continuing debate about the form that regulation of care workers should take” as a contributory factor in this and previous delays to home care registration, which was originally due to start in April 2007.

Varley, who was not responding to McClimont’s comments, said the delay should be used to “decide on the approach to regulating carers that the government wants to adopt”.

The DH declined to revise its statement in light of Varley’s comments.

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