Nigel Clarke: GSCC conduct system should be standardised

The man who led an inquiry into a future professional body for pharmacy has backed calls to bring the General Social Care Council’s conduct function in line with healthcare regulators.

Nigel Clarke, who spoke at the GSCC’s annual conference last month, reiterated the need for conduct functions across different regulatory bodies to be “harmonised”, to improve public understanding.

The government has already said the GSCC should be moved within the remit of the Council for Healthcare Regulatory Excellence (CHRE), which oversees the work of nine healthcare regulators.

Ministers either accepted or agreed in principle to 20 recommendations made in a damning review of the organisation’s conduct function by the CHRE, published earlier this month.

Many of these would bring the GSCC into line with healthcare regulation models, such as being able to impose conditions as additional sanctions, and introducing a “fitness-to-practise” regime instead of the present conduct system.

“Sanctions make common sense,” said Clarke. “You’re protecting the consumers of services, but it’s also a way of improving the standards of care. Sanctions are not about punishment; they are about protecting the public.”

However, Peter Beresford, chair of service user group Shaping Our Lives, raised concerns that adopting models used in healthcare regulation could be detrimental to service users.

He said the government must ensure users were consulted about reforms, adding that this would be the only way to regain confidence in the conduct system.

● The GSCC has confirmed it is not yet ready to bring conduct proceedings against social workers involved in the baby Peter case, one year since launching an investigation.

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