GSCC: ‘New chief will be stymied by failure to publish review’

The new chief executive of the General Social Care Council will face a difficult job if the Department of Health’s long-awaited review of the organisation is not published soon, according to the British Association of Social Workers.

Bridget Robb, a development manager for BASW, praised the GSCC for appointing Penny Thompson, a qualified social worker, as its chief executive.

But she said Thompson would have difficulty improving the organisation in light of the DH’s “continued failure” to publish the outcome of a review of its delivery organisations.

Results of reviews delayed

The DH announced a review of the cost-effectiveness of the three adult social care workforce delivery organisations that it funds, the GSCC, Skills for Care and the Social Care Institute for Excellence, in September 2008 – almost 18 months ago.

Community Care learned in July last year that the so-called “delivery chain review” had already been completed.

However, publication was put on hold until after the Council for Healthcare Regulatory Excellence’s report into the GSCC’s conduct system at the end of September, and the final report of the Social Work Task Force in December.

“This continued uncertainty is putting a blight on all the organisations and needs to be resolved as soon as possible,” said Robb.

Thompson, who served as interim deputy chief executive at NHS Haringey in the wake of the Baby P case, will replace the GSCC’s interim leader, Paul Snell, in April.

Thompson’s career

GSCC chair Rosie Varley said Thompson’s career “demonstrates her ability to achieve in the most demanding of circumstances”.

“In particular, her experience of turning around the performance of Sheffield’s social services department, together with her recent experience [as interim deputy chief executive] at NHS Haringey in the wake of the Baby P tragedy, make her an ideal candidate to take forward the GSCC at this critical juncture.”

Thompson led Sheffield Council out of special measures during her time as social services director from 1998 until 2005.

The GSCC suspended its previous chief executive, Mike Wardle, last July after amassing a backlog of 203 unallocated conduct cases. He was dismissed in November after an internal investigation.

Of her appointment, Thompson said: “I am very pleased to take this important role in leading the GSCC as it matures and strengthens its approach to regulation, supported by the Social Work Task Force reforms.”


Penny Thompson’s CV

Interim deputy chief executive, NHS Haringey, Sep 2008 to Nov 2009

Public sector consultant, 2007 to present

Chief executive, London Borough of Hackney, Jan 2005 to May 2007

Executive director of social services, Sheffield Council, Jan 1998 to Jan 2005

Assistant children and families director, Nottinghamshire Council, Mar 1995 to Jan 1998

District officer, services manager and principal child protection officer, Cleveland Council, July 1987 to Mar 1995

Social worker, Sheffield Council, 1981 to 1987

Social worker, London Borough of Tower Hamlets, 1979 to 1981

Assistant social worker, London Borough of Tower Hamlets, 1975 to 1977


Previous GSCC chief executives

Penny Thompson will be the General Social Care Council’s fifth chief executive since it was set up in 2001.

Lynne Berry was the GSCC’s first chief executive and left in October 2007 to become head of elderly people’s charity WRVS.

Former civil servant Mike Wardle replaced Berry in 2007, but he was suspended in July 2009 and dismissed in November following an investigation of the conduct department.

Paul Philip stepped in as interim chief executive when Wardle was suspended. He returned to his post at the General Medical Council as acting chief executive in October 2009.

Former Commission for Social Care Inspection chief inspector Paul Snell will remain in place as the GSCC’s interim chief executive until Thompson takes over in April.


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