Publication of a plan to streamline the three national adult social care workforce bodies has been delayed again, prompting claims the government’s handling of the issue has been “disastrous”.
The bodies are the General Social Care Council, the Social Care Institute for Excellence and Skills for Care.
The British Association of Social Workers development manager Bridget Robb accused health ministers of lacking an overall strategy for reforming the delivery bodies to improve support for the workforce.
The Department of Health said this week that its long-awaited review of the General Social Care Council, Skills for Care and the Social Care Institute for Excellence would not be published until after the May 6 general election.
The so-called “delivery chain review”, which has been repeatedly delayed since it was commissioned in December 2008, has grown in importance since the Social Work Task Force found last year that social work in England suffered from weak leadership at a national level.
In January, the department promised it would be published alongside the government’s Social Work Implementation Plan, but the review never materialised.
The taskforce, which recommended forming a college of social work to resolve the problem, said “many social workers” had expressed confusion about the overlapping remits of the national bodies in social care. Robb said the government’s handling of the issue had been “disastrous”.
“[The failure to publish the review] shows a total lack of respect that the Department of Health has for social care, despite the rhetoric,” she told Community Care.
Robb explained that when the report was completed last year, it failed to give ministers any clear recommendations on how to improve the landscape of the social care bodies.
“It wasn’t a very good report and didn’t provide any clarity,” said Robb, who saw the document as a board member of training body Skills for Care.
“It left the DH with as much of a problem as it started with.”
But she added: “The current changes are happening piecemeal and there’s no overarching strategy.”
Amanda Edwards, deputy chief executive of Social Care Institute for Excellence, said as far as her organisation was concerned “it is business as usual”, despite the DH’s failure to publish the review.
“We look forward to developing the service that Scie provides for the sector, alongside key partners, during the course of this year.”
A spokesperson for the DH declined to comment, citing rules banning civil servants from speaking about political issues during the pre-election period.