Staff safety fears over public access to social care register

    Government plans to publish the names and home addresses of
    nurses, midwives and health visitors have prompted further debate
    over public access to the new social care register, due to start
    operating later this year.

    Nursing’s governing body, the United Kingdom Central Council,
    has protested at the proposals for the nursing register, arguing
    that unrestricted publication would put nursing staff at increased
    risk of attack.

    Blueprints for the registers of staff working in social care
    are currently with government ministers, but a decision on how much
    personal information will be held, and what will be made publicly
    available, has yet to be taken.

    Final decisions on the operation of the register will rest with
    the General Social Care Council in England and its equivalent
    bodies in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

    Don Brand, director of policy at the National Institute for
    Social Work, said it was among the details still to be thrashed
    out. “On the one hand there was a view that in these days of open
    government we should be as open as possible. On the other hand
    people are quite concerned by the idea of what could, in some
    cases, be quite sensitive information being accessible to the
    public.

    “There are several possible ways around it – for instance we
    could just have office addresses available, or home addresses could
    be on there but not publicly available – only to employers and
    prospective employers.”

    Jennifer Bernard, director of training organisation CCETSW,
    said: “As an individual I’m not sure there’s any need for registers
    to include information like that. I think names, possibly details
    of qualifications, and maybe the place of work, but I’d question
    whether people’s home addresses should be available for public
    consumption.”

    Head of British Association of Social Workers Ian Johnston
    added: “It’s a crucial issue. In our view we want the register to
    be as open as possible, but we are very aware of the need to
    protect the privacy and safety of workers.

    “The balance needs to be thought through properly,” he added.
    “Prospective employers could be given more rights to access
    information than a member of the general public, although there
    would need to be safeguards against people impersonating
    employers.”

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