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

“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

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

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