Regulator could gain powers to issue public warnings about care staff

The Health and Care Professions Council has revealed more detail about it proposals to regulate adult social care workers in England, including how much it would cost to set up a 'negative register'.

The Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) could be given the right to issue public warnings about adult social care staff in England who are found unfit to practise, if proposals to set up a “negative register” for the workforce are approved.

Employers would be expected to resolve low-level complaints, but those cases involving more serious complaints, particularly where service users had been placed at risk, would be reported to the regulator for investigation and potentially adjudication.

Social care workers found unfit to practise would be made subject to a “prohibition order” and included in the negative register – and public warnings could be issued about them.

The HCPC has also suggested that it should be made a criminal offence to engage in social care activities while subject to negative registration.

The regulator set out the proposals in a briefing document published ahead of its next council meeting on 7 February.

They include a projection of the costs of a negative register. The HCPC estimates that the register would cost £3m to set up and £5-6m annually to run, plus around £1m per year in adjudication costs. This is based on a 500,000-strong workforce.

It would require a government grant to cover the start up costs and, as no annual registration fee would be collected from individual social care workers, other funding arrangements would have to be considered for operating the scheme.

Options include an annual grant from government or a levy on service providers, for example through the Care Quality Commission’s licensing fee.

The proposals have been submitted to the Department of Health for approval.

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