Editorial Comment: A system we can trust

The chief executive of the British Association of Social Workers criticised the General Social Care Council for failing to deliver the goods at BASW’s annual conference last week.

Ian Johnston suggested that not enough misconduct cases were being brought forward against social workers and it was being unduly lenient.

Of 900 conduct referrals to the GSCC in the past 18 months, 12 cases have been taken to public conduct hearings. Two social workers have been struck off the register. But would a higher number of hearings be a greater sign of success? Not necessarily.

Successful professional regulation should weed out the few who pose a real danger to service users, but its higher aim must be to drive up standards and develop a learning culture.

To achieve this, the system needs to win the trust of both the public and the profession. If both can see misconduct cases being handled in a fair, robust and consistent manner then confi dence in regulation and standards will grow.

This appears to be happening. Proper evidence is needed for a case to progress, and the range of sanctions available offers
flexibility in response.

There is little to recommend more aggression. The GMC’s hardline approach with doctors has simply reinforced the “protect your own” culture that has prevented progress.

We all want a trained and trusted workforce in social care and the conduct hearing system is supporting that journey.

Contact the author
 Mike Broad

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