The end of social workers?

Initial reaction from the profession to health secretary Alan
Milburn’s proposal for replacing some social workers with a
new-style hybrid professional has been mixed.

The British Association of Social Workers has voiced fears that the
move could confuse service users and also that it signals an
abandonment of the principle of joint working.

Meanwhile, the organisation representing health visitors claims the
initiative has more to do with the shortage of social workers than
any coherent vision for the future of health and social care.

And yet, if we do eventually get new family care workers combining
the skills of health visitors and social workers, is that really
such a bad thing as long as they are properly trained to take on
the role?

There is an issue over who will regulate the new staff and it will
be vital to lobby to keep them under the General Social Care
Council umbrella. Preventive services dealing with non-medical care
– whether it’s family care workers or Sure Start – are social care
and social care must own them.

Now that Milburn has nailed his colours to the mast and set out his
plans for change, the chances are it is going to happen. And those
involved in social care would be better off attempting to influence
the future shape of the roles rather than engaging in a futile
battle to stop them.

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