The Health Professions Council should immediately appoint qualified social workers to senior positions to prove its commitment to the profession, a leading sector figure said.
David N Jones, former general secretary of the British Association of Social Workers and an Ofsted inspector until this year, also called on the HPC to change its name to reflect the importance of social work in the organisation.
Jones, now a consultant, was recruited in 2007 by Ofsted, which suffered criticism over its lack of social care experience. Referring to the problems after responsibility for children’s social care inspections were transferred from the Commission for Social Care Inspection to Ofsted in April 2007, Jones said: “The key lesson for the new systems is that there’s got to be more than lip service in the new regulator to the significance of social work.”
He cited the way education for looked-after children was assessed as an example of how social care could become marginalised.
“If you look at the criticisms of both the Care Quality Commission and Ofsted, it’s clear that social work and social care were not reflected in senior positions from the beginning and the social work voice was not taken into account strongly enough,” said Jones.
“The main consequence of this was that it wasn’t felt too much on the frontline but, for example, in discussions about the significance of education for looked-after children in Ofsted. That was a very difficult debate which became predominantly about education.”
Jones also criticised the “arrogance” of the Department of Health for failing to consult unions and other bodies in the sector over the changes.
Under plans laid out in a review of arm’s-length bodies, published earlier this week, the General Social Care Council will be abolished by 2012 and transfer responsibility for regulating social care to the Health Professions Council.
“The way the announcement was made and the insulting lack of consultation showed a complete lack of understanding about the history and the way in which the GSCC was formed.
“It was arrogant and suggests a lack of willingness to listen to the profession.”
Helga Pile, national officer for Unison, said she was surprised and disappointed that England’s largest social workers’ union was not consulted over such a big decision.
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