The General Social Care Council is on track to clear a backlog of conduct cases by the end of this month, according to the Department of Health.
The regulator is making good progress in rolling out a £1m recovery plan, which includes a commitment to resolve all of its outstanding pre-2008 cases by the end of March, a DH spokesperson said. But “there is still more work to do”.
Last year, an investigation by the Council for Healthcare Regulatory Excellence concluded the conduct system was “not effective, efficient or well-governed”. The report, published in November, described the GSCC as “an organisation looking in another direction” and even found managers had deliberately stalled cases of social workers accused of misconduct in order to save money.
The government responded by giving the regulator until the end of March to secure “significant operational improvements”. Since then, the DH has been receiving weekly progress updates and government officials have been working with the GSCC to assist in implementing the recovery plan.
A new IT database and updated procedures have been introduced, including a requirement for risk assessments to be carried out within 24 hours of receiving a case, and for applications for interim suspension orders to be made where necessary within 48 hours.
The spokesperson for the DH added that the weekly updates also showed the GSCC had increased capacity within its investigative function, but declined to comment further until ministers receive a detailed report at the end of this month.
At a parliamentary reception last week, the GSCC’s chair, Rosie Varley, said that since the backlog of more than 200 cases and other weaknesses were uncovered last summer, “the council’s absolute priority has been to address these, ensuring that our processes are robust and rigorous. All cases are now allocated and, although there is further work to do to strengthen our work in this area, I am now confident that we are properly discharging our duty to protect the public.”