A former member of the General Social Care Council has accused the government of instructing the regulator to ignore all but the most serious conduct cases to avoid overspending its budget.
The Department of Health has strongly denied the claim from Bill McClimont, made in the wake of a damning review of the GSCC’s conduct system by the Council for Healthcare Regulatory Excellence.
The report, ordered by the DH after the discovery of a backlog of 203 unallocated cases, explained the backlog was down to a deliberate policy from 2007 onwards of shelving referrals in order to save money, ordered by the GSCC’s chief executive.
It added: “Our discussions with council members suggest that they believed that the DH had approved this decision.”
However, in an interview with Community Care, McClimont, vice-chair of the UK Home Care Association, went further and said the directives came from the government itself.
“The Department of Health instructed the GSCC to pursue only the most serious cases, where there was a strong likelihood of finding against the individual,” said McClimont, who served on the council until August this year.
He added that the department’s interest was primarily financial, and that the GSCC was working to a brief from the DH which the CHRE has now shown to be “inappropriate”.
A spokesperson for the DH said there was “no evidence it was ever alerted” to the decision to allowing social workers whose conduct had been called into question to continue practising, “and we can imagine no circumstances in which such a decision would have been agreed by government”.
“Indeed, throughout 2008 officials were raising concerns with GSCC about the low number of conduct hearings they were holding,” the spokesperson added.
“Whenever the GSCC raised financial difficulties the DH made available further funds to ensure that statutory duties were met.”
The spokesperson said the DH had provided an additional £2.2m to the GSCC for its conduct system over the past 18 months.