The government’s decision on the future of the General Social Care Council, Skills for Care and the Social Care Institute for Excellence has been further delayed by an urgent review into the GSCC’s conduct function.
The Department of Health announced last September that the roles and functions of the three bodies would be reviewed to ensure their cost-effectiveness against a combined annual budget of £95m.
The report, which is finished but remains unpublished, could lead to significant changes in the roles of the GSCC, England’s professional regulator, Skills for Care as the workforce development agency, and Scie, which shares best practice across children’s and adults’ social care.
Although originally scheduled for publication in December 2008, publication has now been delayed until October 2009 at the earliest by events at the GSCC last week and other developments, including the work of the Social Work Task Force.
GSCC hit by referrals crisis
The regulator suspended its chief executive, Mike Wardle, following the discovery of a backlog of more than 200 conduct referrals, including 21 involving a potential risk to the public. It now faces an urgent review into its conduct function by the Council for Healthcare Regulatory Excellence, commissioned by health secretary Andy Burnham, which is due to report by the end of September.
Changes to workforce landscape
A DH spokesperson explained that other significant changes to the social care workforce landscape needed to be taken into account before deciding on the future of the three delivery agencies.
These include the forthcoming launch of the National Skills Academy for Social Care, which will share good practice in adult social care workforce development, and the taskforce’s final report, due in October.
In its latest interim report, published today, the taskforce recommended the establishment of a national college of social work to provide a unified voice for the profession but also take on workforce functions.
DH: decision now would be premature
The spokesperson said: “With all this in mind, it makes sense to wait until we have the final report of the taskforce and the CHRE review of the GSCC has been completed before making any final decisions on the future direction for the delivery organisations as a whole. It would be wasteful, and very unfair to the people working in those organisations, to make decisions now, only to have to revisit them in a few months’ time.
“We appreciate that this will add to the period of uncertainty that the three organisations have been going through – and coping with admirably – but that seems to be a less disruptive option in the long run.”
National Skills Academy for Social Care