The General Social Care Council really has got itself in a pickle. A particularly unrepresentative quango established by the government to regulate social care and social work professionals (in England as the other constituent countries in the UK have their own versions).
They have had mixed levels of effectiveness all round. All social workers have to be registered as social workers in order to practice and to use the protected title (and pay for the privilege of course). They are also responsible for the codes of practice and for disciplining social workers who break those codes or who might otherwise be unfit to practice as social workers.
And therein lies the rub. Mike Wardle, the Chief Executive of the GSCC was disciplined and suspended last month because there is such a high backlog of cases to be heard against social workers and a lack of appropriate risk assessments pertaining to these cases.
The Deputy Chief Executive of the General Medical Council, Paul Philip, was appointed to help put things in order. Hardly instils confidence.
The agency as a whole is facing a review to determine whether it is effective at carrying out its job at all. I only wish they had actually considered social workers, and practising or at the very least, recently practising social workers fit to monitor and judge our own rather than bringing in a preponderance of lay people and academic social workers who probably last practiced decades ago. Of course there is a need for a lay response but there also have to be people who have a current and active knowledge of social work from all levels and not only high echelons of management or the safe walls of ivory towers.
But back to the backlog – so to speak. Hilton Dawson, the Chief Executive of BASW (British Association of Social Workers) released a statement yesterday explaining that these hearings were being rushed through and may not be giving the accused parties sufficient time to prepare their own cases. BASW run an advice and representation service so would be in a position to be assisting with the defence of some of those social workers whose appeals are being heard. The statement released though gives a couple of examples
In a recent example a 295 page ‘bundle’ was received by the A and R (Advice and Representation) Service 3 working days before a hearing which clashed with prior commitments of the officer who was to undertake representation. Our request for a postponement of a few days was summarily refused and our request for a review of this decision was ignored.
I do not believe that the fancy lawyers employed by the GSCC at public expense would have been treated in this way. In the past the GSCC have quite rightly expressed concern about social workers appearing before them unrepresented yet now we have them wilfully undermining those basic rights.
So is the right to a fair hearing being lost in the tails of the incompetence that led to such a massive backlog in the first place? Most probably.
The more I read about the GSCC the more I either sigh with resignation or work myself up into a grump.
And while I’m on a general grump with the GSCC – sorry, their Annual Conference? Cost £170 + VAT. They REALLY think a lot of social workers – just social workers, not social work managers, department managers etc etc are going to be able to either pay that or convince their L + D departments to pay that to go to the conference? Maybe I just inhabit a different planet. Then they invite Deirdre Sanders – Sun agony aunt and (it pains me to write it) member of the Social Work Taskforce – who dropped out of the free-to-enter Community Care Live show which would have brought her face to face with a LOT more social workers..
She doesn’t speak for us, she doesn’t speak for our profession, she is a pawn of the government and the Sun who have no interest in quality social work but rather in more column inches and cheap votes at the expense of thought and consideration. She should stick to what she actually knows about. Although that would probably free up too much of her time.
I have very little, if any confidence in the GSCC anymore. And it shouldn’t be that way.