Social workers who are black, male or disabled are more likely to end up in conduct hearings, the General Social Care Council revealed today.
In an analysis of social care regulation over the past 11 years, the GSCC found social workers with these characteristics were more likely to be referred to and end up before its conduct panels.
Men make up 22% of the Social Care Register but 34% of referrals involve them, making them 1.8 times more likely to be accused of misconduct than women.
Black social workers were 1.7 times more likely to be referred. 16.2% of referrals involved black registrants despite them making up just 10.8% of registered social workers. Disabled social workers were 1.5 times as likely to be referred as their non-disabled peers.
But while these groups are over-represented the GSCC said “no inferences can be drawn about the prevalence of ‘misconduct’ amongst these groups nor about whether such groups have been subject to discrimination”.
David Rowland, head of policy and research at the GSCC and author of the report, said numerous factors could be involved and more research was needed to figure out whether discrimination is a factor.
“There’s a very big difference between identifying an over-representation and trying to identify what its cause could be. This is the start of that process,” he said.
John Nawrockyi, director of adult social services at Greenwich Council and secretary of Workforce Development Network at the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services, said the finding was disappointing.
“We would encourage councils to monitor this type of occurrence and would welcome any further research into this,” he added.
With the General Social Care Council due to close down on 31 July it is, however, unclear who might do that research.
The data that the GSCC report is based on is unlikely to end up with the Health Professions Council although King’s College London’s Social Care Workforce Unit has been in discussions about inheriting some of the regulator’s data.
The GSCC report also revealed that 57% of conduct hearings involved unacceptable behaviour and only 19% concerned poor practice alone.
Poor safeguarding was the number one type of misconduct when it came to poor practice followed by breaches of confidentiality and failures to share information appropriately.