Guidelines on whistleblowing in social care published by Unison have been endorsed by the body set to take over the regulation of social workers in England.
Marc Seale, chief executive of the Health Professions Council, said Unison’s duty of care handbook provided a “useful accompaniment” to the regulator’s own guidance on raising concerns, which will apply to registered social workers from next April.
Publication of the handbook coincided with the launch of whistleblowing charity Public Concern at Work’s campaign to encourage and support social care workers to challenge unsafe practice.
Introducing the handbook, Unison’s general secretary, Dave Prentis, said high-profile cases such as that of Baby P, Peter Connelly, had changed attitudes to duty of care.
“[Those cases] have reminded us of the vital importance of raising concerns and acting on them before it is too late, and of developing a workplace culture that enables staff to have the confidence they need to speak out,” he said.
The handbook states that, when a social care worker’s duty of care to service users, the public or themselves conflicts with management instructions, they may have the right to blow the whistle.
But it strongly advises members to consult their Unison branch beforehand, in order to protect themselves from possible reprisals.
The HPC will be responsible for maintaining professional standards of social workers when it takes over responsibility for the register from the General Social Care Council next April.
“Unison’s duty of care handbook provides a useful accompaniment to the HPC’s standards and guidance, and assists in maintaining good practice across health and social care settings,” said Seale.
Penny Thompson, chief executive of the GSCC, added: “We warmly welcome any tool that enhances the code of practice for social workers and helps social workers to maintain the duty of care to service users, colleagues and the public.”
Research by Public Concern at Work this week found social care managers dismissed whistleblowers’ concerns in 40% of cases.
What do you think? Join the debate on CareSpace
Keep up to date with the latest developments in social care. Sign up to our daily and weekly emails
How to blow the whistle