The Council for Healthcare Regulatory Excellence’s review of the General Social Care Council’s conduct department, revealed a long history of failings. Social work leaders are already debating how the regulator should move forward from such a critical assessment – including some who said they were not surprised at the seriousness of the revelations.
Tim Chittleburgh, chair of the British Association of Social Workers, said: “The GSCC’s primary role must be to protect the public and it should never have been seen by anyone as an advocate for social work. BASW welcomes the CHRE’s proposal that the GSCC now concentrates on the independent registration and regulation of social workers and believes now is the time for social work education and training responsibility to be taken up by a college for social work.”
Roger Kline, trade union official for social care at Aspect, said: “The report will not come as a surprise to anyone who has had experience of the GSCC’s conduct procedures in recent months.
“The problems at the GSCC should not be used to justify halting the extension of conduct regulation to the rest of the social care workforce at a time when increased ‘remodelling’ of the workforce means more work previously done by social workers may be delegated to other staff. The need for effective regulation is greater than ever and that message should not be lost in response to this report.”
Helga Pile, national officer for social work at Unison, said: “Unison welcomes the recommendation that cases should be referred to the conduct committee only if there is a realistic prospect of a sanction being imposed. Our members have, at times, faced an agonising wait to get their names cleared, when no real evidence was ever presented to the watchdog in the first place.
“The union also agrees with the proposal to provide the conduct committees with the power to impose a wider range of sanctions, such as conditions on registration of social workers. We agree that this is often the most effective sanction to protect the public and to help the social worker improve their standards.
“We look forward to working more closely with the GSCC on conduct and competence issues, to ensure fairness and effectiveness in the regulatory case work process.”
A joint statement from the president of the Association of Directors of Children’s Services, Kim Bromley-Derry, and his counterpart at the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services, Jenny Owen, said: “Public confidence in the regulatory system lies at the heart of the public’s perception of the work we do.
“Social work professionals everywhere should have that same confidence in the regulatory system as do their employers, the government and the wider public. It is absolutely critical that we, as employers of social workers, stand alongside them, the GSCC itself, and the Department of Health in demanding that the regulation of the profession matches the same high standards of work we demand from social workers.”