Behind the headlines

In less than two years it will be illegal to call yourself a
social worker unless you are registered as such with the General
Social Care Council. The move is designed to give social work the
solid professional basis and the public credibility it needs,
particularly as practitioners increasingly have to assert
themselves in multidisciplinary settings involving other
professionals from the health and education fields. Everyone who
registers as a social worker will be required to have a diploma or
degree in social work. Known as “protection of title”, new
legislation will have to be introduced to enforce it. Consultation
on the legislation, which covers social workers in England and
Wales, will start in November and run through to January. It will
be implemented in April 2005. GSCC chairperson Rodney Brooke said:
“Obviously it will not be possible to register all 60,000 social
workers in one go, so we are urging everyone to apply as early as
possible before the legal restriction comes in.”   

Felicity Collier, chief executive, Baaf Adoption and

“The general perception seems to be that registration has got off
to a slow start but the message about the requirement to register
is loud and clear. Yes, the timescale will be tight, but if service
users are to be offered the protection they deserve then the GSCC
must deliver and we must all co-operate.”

Julia Ross, social services director, London Borough of
Barking and Dagenham

“The sooner the better! This is long overdue and I’m sure we will
all be queuing up to have our professional status recognised at
last..I’ll be the first in the queue.”

Martin Green, chief executive, Counsel and Care for the

“I am not clear how the move to make social workers register with
the General Social Care Council will either improve their
performance or enhance their credibility and status with the
public. If we are not careful, this initiative will produce another
administrative process that will be bureaucratic and not deliver
anything of tangible benefit. I would not be opposed to a
registration process, but I would like to see it clearly linked to
some specific outcomes and those outcomes should be about improving
services to users and enhancing the status of the profession. I
would be in favour of this approach being the catalyst for a
thorough review of social work and what it is designed to achieve
and how that is viewed by the general public. At the moment there
is a negative view of social work and that needs to be both
challenged and changed and this process could be the starting point
for that.”

Bill Badham, development officer, National Youth

“At 45, I had to pass a medical test to renew my truck licence and
now will have to pass one every five years. And if I drive badly, I
get banned. But, should licence renewal require a current road test
as well? The consultation on registering social workers ignores the
crucial questions: first, should evidence of qualification be
enough for a social worker to practice and, second, if evidence of
practice is also required, then in what fields and how

Bob Hudson, senior associate, University of Birmingham
health services management centre

“It is, of course, good news that social work is to be a
registrable profession, but to some extent this is a pyrrhic
victory.ÊThe real story about social work over the past two
decades has been its ‘deprofessionalisation’ in the face of ‘New
Public Management’.ÊSocial work at its best is a
problem-solving process of human interaction, but the skills and
tasks associated with the modern care manager tend to be viewed as
‘technical’.ÊIt may well soon be an offence not to be
registered, but when will it be acceptable to practise
professionally rather than ration bureaucratically?”

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