The abolition of the General Social Care Council has been put back until July 2012.
The handover of the regulation of social workers in England from the GSCC to the Health Professions Council was originally planned for April 2012, as outlined in the Health and Social Care Bill.
But the Department of Health has put the passage of the Bill on hold for three months as part of an “NHS listening exercise”, intended to address strong opposition to plans to reform the NHS.
“The new transfer date reflects the realities of the Health and Social Care Bill’s timetable,” explained Penny Thompson, chief executive of the GSCC.
She said the three-month delay would give the regulator an opportunity to “facilitate an efficient and effective transfer to the HPC”.
The GSCC is urging social workers and students to continue registering and re-registering as usual until the HPC takes over. Thompson said: “It’s important that social workers understand that the GSCC will continue to be the social work regulator until July 2012 at the earliest and we are working hard to communicate this.”
A statement on the GSCC’s website said: “You will need to complete the renewal form and send it back to us within the time limit specified in your reminder letter. If you fail to do so you will be removed from the register and will not be able to practise as a social worker.”
Social work leaders have generally welcomed the delay, claiming it will allow more time to put in place wider reforms to the profession, which will affect regulation.
Hilary Tompsett, chair of the Joint University Council’s social work education committee, said the extra time would allow the Social Work Reform Board to further clarify the professional capabilities framework and arrangements for post-qualifying training.
“Although it is important to keep people abreast of the changes, it may give a bit more time for all the bits of the jigsaw to be in place,” she said.
“It always was a very demanding timetable when such fundamental reforms were going on with the reform board.”
A spokesperson for BASW – The College of Social Work agreed that it could be “helpful” to have more time. But she added: “If this drags on, it may start to cause concern.”
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