The General Social Care Council has sacked its chief executive, Mike Wardle, in the wake of a damning review of the organisation’s conduct system.
England’s social care regulator is recruiting a new senior management team in an attempt to draw a line under the serious operational failings highlighted by the report by the Council for Healthcare Regulatory Excellence, published last week.
Wardle, who was suspended from his post in July, was dismissed following an internal investigation prompted by the discovery of 203 unallocated conduct cases, including 21 with public protection concerns.
GSCC chair Rosie Varley (pictured) took the decision after a disciplinary hearing on 3 November, the day before the CHRE report was published.
A GSCC spokesperson confirmed the former civil servant’s £147,500-a-year contract had been terminated and he will not receive a pay-off.
Varley said the new chief executive and three directors would come into an organisation with “greater clarity of purpose” which had public protection at the heart of its work.
She added: “We are also looking at how we can continue to raise standards in the sector by strengthening social work training, and holding the profession to account for competence as well as conduct.”
The CHRE report was ordered by the Department of Health in July 2009, which coincided with the announcement of Wardle’s suspension.
Since then, two interim chief executives have been in place – Paul Philip, who has returned to his post at the General Medical Council as acting chief executive, and Paul Snell (pictured), who remains in temporary charge after starting on 1 October.
The CHRE report concluded the GSCC failed to ensure public safety by deliberately stalling cases of social workers accused of misconduct in order to save money, having overspent its budget.
The backlog of cases existed since 2007, the investigation found, and at one time stood at more than 700.
The CHRE found evidence of instructions issued to staff by senior managers to deliberately delay cases and not to apply for interim suspension orders “unless they were “extremely serious, such as cases involving violence or child abuse”.
Senior management were also found to have provided inaccurate information to the council and committees, “which provided an unjustifiable level of assurance” about the growing backlog of cases.
The CHRE concluded that the GSCC was “an organisation looking in another direction” and its overall conduct system was “not effective, efficient or well-governed”.
It added: “The GSCC’s focus on public protection was not as strongly expressed in its conduct function as it should have been, possibly because it was giving greater attention to its other statutory duties of developing and improving social work education, establishing a register and maintaining public confidence in social care services.”