Planned changes to the regulation of social workers in England are “on track” despite the three-month pause in the Health and Social Care Bill, according to the transfer oversight group.
The handover of the regulation of social workers in England from the General Social Care Council to the Health Professions Council was originally planned for April 2012, as outlined in the Bill.
But this was pushed back to July at the earliest after the Department of Health put the passage of the Bill on hold while it carried out an “NHS listening exercise”.
Harry Cayton, chair of the group charged with overseeing the transfer, said the delay had been challenging, but confirmed that both organisations would be ready for the handover in July.
He added: “It has caused more problems for the GSCC than the HPC, because the GSCC has to maintain its statutory duties and staff morale; whereas the delay has given a bit of extra time to the HPC.”
Speaking to Community Care a year after the government announced the abolition of the GSCC, Cayton said the oversight group had worked through several issues, including arrangements for social workers who wish to work in a UK country other than the one in which they are registered.
“There are good, workable rules for European professionals wishing to work in another country, which are transferable,” he said.
The devolved countries would have to understand and build a relationship with the HPC, having previously had a good relationship with the GSCC, he added.
“There is no doubt the HPC’s style is different,” he said.
He also echoed the HPC’s frustration at not being able to confirm how much social workers will have to pay in fees and when.
He said: “The issue of fees is problematic, and there is no simple and easy solution.”
But he added: “The HPC is the most efficient and cost-effective regulator we’ve got.”
• July – 18 November 2011: HPC carries out a public consultation on the standards of proficiency for social workers and threshold level of qualification for entry to the register
• End of 2011: Confirmation of whether the Bill is going to progress and on what timeframe
• July 2012: Transfer due. Until this date, social workers in England must continue to register with the GSCC
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