The General Social Care Council will continue to improve the social work profession in its final year as its regulator in England, its chief executive has vowed.
In an exclusive podcast with Community Care, Penny Thompson set out her priorities between now and the day the Health Professions Council takes over responsibility for the social care register in 2012.
“There will be no let-up in the focus on quality and fairness,” she said.
“We are continuing to learn from what we do and improve the quality of our assessments and investigations.”
The GSCC identified a backlog of more than 200 conduct cases in June 2009, prompting the last government to order an independent review. This ordered an overhaul of the system to improve public protection.
The regulator made significant progress in turning round its failing conduct function, but in July the new government announced the regulator would be scrapped as part of its review of arm’s-length bodies.
The HPC will take over its regulatory functions and be renamed the Health and Care Professions Council in April 2012. Social workers will be regulated using a fitness-to-practise system, which will assess professional competence as well as conduct.
Until then, the GSCC will continue to operate as normal. It is currently managing a slew of re-registrations and working on producing fresh guidance on professional boundaries in partnership with the other three UK care councils.
Thompson said the GSCC would work closely with the HPC to make sure the transition took into account the unique nature of the social work profession.
She also broadly supported the HPC’s proposal to look at opening up the register to include the wider social care workforce.
HPC chief executive Marc Seale confirmed in an interview with Community Care last week that he would consider which groups of social care workers will face compulsory or voluntary registration in the future.
Thompson said: “I think [registration] will be continually under review because social care workers have such a critical role to play in the care of vulnerable people.”
She added that the registration of social care managers should be a priority: “Those are the people that quality-assure the workers who are going in and doing the hands-on care.”
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