Members of the Social Work Reform Board have criticised ministers for failing to consult them over the controversial decision to scrap the General Social Care Council.
The shock announcement, made in July following a Department of Health review of NHS and social care bodies, was made without consultation with the sector.
The reform board’s chair, Moira Gibb, who is overseeing a wide-ranging programme to overhaul the social work profession in England, has written to ministers to express the disappointment felt by members over the government’s handling of the issue.
In the letter published last week, Gibb said the decision failed to take into account the reform programme, which the board is responsible for implementing, and the GSCC’s contribution to its work so far. Hilary Tompsett, chair of the JUC Social Work Education Committee and reform board member, backed Gibb’s stance, saying the decision went against the commitment for joint working.
In her letter to children’s minister Tim Loughton, care minister Paul Burstow and universities minister David Willetts, Gibb said the announcement had “caused concern” among members of the board.
“While we note the rationale for such a change, we were disappointed that the contribution the GSCC has recently been making to our work was not recognised,” she wrote.
Gibb noted the work the GSCC has been doing to fulfil the taskforce’s recommendation of providing more transparent and effective regulation of social work education. For example, inspection reports of university social work courses were made available on the GSCC website for the first time earlier this year.
“It would be unhelpful to lose this improvement because organisational change is required,” she said.
The regulation of social workers will be transferred to the Health Professions Council, which currently regulates 15 healthcare professions, by 2012.
Tompsett told Community Care: “Moira has captured the shock wave, because we didn’t have any advance warning and nobody in the sector was aware before it was announced. That’s a strange thing to do when you have a commitment to work together.”
Tompsett said Gibb’s letter was part of an ongoing dialogue with ministers, but added that it would have been “helpful” to have considered some of the wider issues before the announcement.
Earlier this month, GSCC chief executive Penny Thompson insisted work to improve the GSCC would not be wasted.
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