The 10-year plan

Many would be daunted by the size of the task ahead. But
although Rodney Brooke, chairperson of the council of the General
Social Care Council, admits his role is a tremendous challenge, he
is excited rather than daunted.

The 17-strong GSCC council is one of the first government bodies
that is required by law to have a majority of lay members and a lay
chairperson (a stipulation that will extend to the council’s
conduct panels and registration panels). Lay and non-lay members
have the same power. As Brooke says: “One person, one vote.
Everyone has their say and we proceed by consensus.”

The council’s remit is impressive: it is tasked with holding to
account the GSCC’s executive and setting its strategy. For example,
now the ball is rolling for registering qualified social workers,
the council is to look at how the GSCC will begin the task of
registering the rest of the 1.2 million social care workforce and
fix the fee it will charge.

With a business plan – and some clear targets – it is relatively
straightforward for Brooke and his colleagues to check that the
executive is working to plan, timescale and budget. The council is
committed to transparency. Its 10 annual meetings are open to the
public and there is a public “question time” session attended by
ministers. Indeed, at the last meeting, community care minister
Stephen Ladyman announced he wanted the registration process to
speed up.

He is not alone. Brooke, like many, is concerned that the GSCC will
be deluged by last-minute applications in March 2005. Although it
may be too late to speed things up for social workers, there are
ways in which the process could be improved for the rest of the
workforce. The government could introduce a similar legal
compulsion for this group to register, for example.

Brooke also suggests, controversially, the process could be
streamlined by removing the requirement to declare health
conditions that would disqualify an applicant from working in this
sector. He suggests the council cannot think of any.

Brooke genuinely believes the hype. He insists the GSCC can protect
the public and the workforce simultaneously. He also wants it to
improve the perception of, and morale in, the social care sector.
But he is realistic about the time frame involved. “In 10 years we
will have had a huge impact on the sector,” he says.

Who’s who in the council

Council lay members

  • Chairperson Rodney Brooke was appointed in March 2002. He is a
    solicitor and senior visiting fellow at the School of Public Policy
    at the University of Birmingham.
  • Tanzeem Ahmed is the director of Olmec, which provides capacity
    building for organisations and communities.
  • Christine Barton has been a teacher and lecturer. She has
    received social care and is a carer herself.
  • Malcolm Clarke is an organisational development and quality
    consultant and researcher working mainly in the public and
    voluntary sectors.
  • Susanna Hancock is head of equal opportunities at Middlesex
    University and chairperson of the Disability Alliance.
  • Melanie Henwood is a self-employed independent health and
    social care consultant and a specialist adviser to the House of
    Commons health select committee.
  • Ann James is an international policy adviser and consultant
    specialising in the health, social care, criminal justice and
    voluntary sectors. She is a qualified social worker.
  • Harry Marsh is a consultant to major charitable trusts and
    voluntary organisations.
  • Judy Weleminsky is a freelance management consultant working in
    the voluntary and public sectors. Most recently as a board member
    of the Children and Families Courts Advisory Support Service she
    blew the whistle on the controversial organisation.

Non-lay members

  • Helen Baker trained as a social worker and is chairperson of
    Oxfordshire Learning Disability NHS Trust.
  • Terry Bamford is chairperson of Kensington and Chelsea Primary
    Care Trust.
  • Lynda Deacon has had a career as a social worker and benefits
    from social care herself.
  • Malcolm Jordan is a former deputy director of social services
    in Lancashire.
  • Arthur Keefe is chairperson of Topss England.
  • Bill McClimont is director of corporate affairs for Nestor
    Healthcare Group, an independent health and social care
  • Beverley Prevatt Goldstein is director of Beacon (Black and
    Ethnic Minority Community Organisations Network).
  • June Thoburn is professor of social work at the University of
    East Anglia.


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