Social worker with bipolar disorder claims care council is out of touch

An approved social worker with bipolar affective disorder has accused the General Social Care Council of “stereotypical and outmoded views of mental health” after it tried to impose conditions on his registration.

The GSCC backed down last month and allowed Peter Van der Gucht to be unconditionally registered, but he has gone public to highlight what he sees as a blanket approach to people with his condition in its initial decision.

The regulator has denied claims of discrimination and said its change of heart was based on new information brought by Van der Gucht as part of an appeal to the Care Standards Tribunal.

This is understood to refer to letters of support from his consultant psychiatrist and Peter Beresford, chair of user organisation Shaping Our Lives.

However, the North Yorkshire Council social worker claimed the information available to the regulator had not fundamentally changed since its initial decision – for instance, it had already received a letter from his consultant.

The case has cast doubt on the clause in the Care Standards Act 2000 requiring the GSCC to ensure that applicants for registration are “physically and mentally fit” to do the job competently and safely.

The regulator admitted it had sought advice from the Disability Rights Commission and had talks with the Department of Health about the duty, amid concerns about its potentially discriminatory impact on disabled people and those with mental health problems.

Van der Gucht, who has worked in social care for 30 years, the last 17 with his diagnosis, was backed by senior members of the DRC in his case. He said: “The [GSCC’s] use of language was negative and exclusive, not positive and inclusive.”

This, he said, referred to a letter saying his application was being questioned “because of the nature of your condition and the potential risk to yourself and service users”.

But GSCC chief executive Lynne Berry said: “When [Van der Gucht] went to the tribunal, he produced new evidence which persuaded us that these conditions were not necessary. We are committed to ensuring there is no discrimination in the way we take our decisions.”

More from Community Care

Comments are closed.