The standards for social workers being brought in to replace the General Social Care Council’s codes of practice are “weak” and “fail to hold employers to account”, according to a union official.
Both the code of practice for social workers and the voluntary code of practice for employers are due to be replaced by standards of proficiency and standards of conduct, performance and ethics from July 2012. It is then that responsibility for regulating social workers in England passes to the Health Professions Council (HPC).
But Roger Kline, social care spokesperson for trade union Aspect, said the HPC had failed to capture many of the “proactive values” of social work in its draft standards, which were opened up to consultation in July.
He was particularly unhappy at the proposed standards to replace the GSCC’s specific requirements on equal opportunities and discrimination. He described them as a “frankly meaningless” duty to reflect on the impact of inequality and discrimination.
Of their impact on employers, Kline said: “The [GSCC’s] codes helped set out their responsibilities, a role that has vanished.
“This draft weakens the protection of the public, fails to hold employers to account, and fails to capture some essential elements of the existing codes.”
The HPC set up a professional liaison group earlier this year to look at the existing standards and frameworks that apply to social workers in England. The draft standards of proficiency are open to public consultation until 18 November.
An HPC spokesperson said: “The key challenge was to ensure that the standards reflect the values of social work, the complexity of practice and diversity of contexts and settings in which social workers find themselves and we look forward to hearing views on this.”
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