New code will encourage social care whistleblowers

A code of conduct for social care staff is to include a clause
requiring people to blow the whistle on colleagues who abuse or
exploit clients.

Sources told Community Care that the proposed General
Social Care Council code would require those on the register to
“recognise and challenge any abusive or exploitative practice and
refer it to the appropriate person or authority”.

They would also be expected to “use established procedures to
redress the problem”.

Other clauses in the draft code would require registrants to
advise their employer or “appropriate authority” if they do not
think they are competent to undertake tasks allocated to them.

Similarly, those allocating duties to other staff would be
expected to address any concerns that those staff might have about
their competence to do the work.

The GSCC and its UK equivalents are due to come into being on 1
October, but arrangements for registering the various professional
groups, as well as unqualified staff, are expected to take several

Professions such as doctors and nursing already have codes of
conduct. Similar whistleblowing clauses already exist for doctors
and clearer guidelines are being proposed for nurses.

The General Medical Council’s code, Good Medical Practice,
obliges doctors to “protect patients when you believe that a
doctor’s or other colleague’s health, conduct or performance is a
threat to them.”

And the United Kingdom Central Council for Nursing and
Midwifery’s draft code of conduct requires nurses to act quickly to
protect patients from risk “if you have good reason to believe that
you or a colleague may not be fit to practise for reason of
conduct, health or competence.”

Meanwhile, a London borough is urging its social services staff
to blow the whistle on any “inappropriate behaviour” with children
or vulnerable adults in care via an anonymous independent

Lambeth Council has publicised the hotline with leaflets,
posters, e-mail and a whistleblower’s charter advising staff how to
act on their suspicions.

Calls are handled by a specialist firm Expolink, which promises
callers anonymity, then liaises with the social services director
and reports progress back to the complainant.

A council spokesperson said that reports of those complaints
that had been upheld would be made available publicly.

Ian Johnston, director of the British Association of Social
Workers, welcomed the anonymous reporting system. “In our
experience there are occasions when speaking out is held against
people although it’s quite difficult to prove that someone has been
denied promotion because of whistleblowing,” he said.

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