Headlines: September 4th, 2008

Almost 800 people have been refused professional registration as social workers in the last five years, a quarter of them because of convictions, disciplinary issues or health matters. In its first report on its activity, the General Social Care Council says it has barred 23 other people from practice since it started registering social workers in 2003.

The report, “Raising standards: social work conduct in England 2003-2008”, looks at how the regulatory body assesses suitability for registration, deals with allegations of misconduct and takes action against anyone who has breached the Code of Practice for Social Care Workers. It shows 214 people were refused registration by an independent committee because of issues relating to criminal convictions, health conditions, and disciplinary matters. A further 582 were refused registration on the basis of their qualifications.

Other figures show that an average of 40 complaints a month were made about registered social workers or students. Those had led to 49 hearings by independent conduct committees and 23 people had been removed from the register, five more had been suspended and 19 others received an admonishment. In two cases no misconduct was found.

More than a third of the cases centred on relationships between social workers and service users or their family members. The Code of Practice states that social workers must not form inappropriate personal relationships with service users and the regulator announced earlier this year that it is beginning work on additional professional guidance.

Sir Rodney Brooke, who chairs the General Council said misconduct was rare and that the majority of the 97,000 social workers and students carried out their work with true professionalism. “Our report shows that where misconduct does exist, we have been able to take appropriate action to preserve public trust and confidence in social care services,” he said and added, “Our first hearing took place just two years ago yet in that space of time we have been able to embed the standards expected of social workers through the Code of Practice and identify key issues such as those relating to inappropriate relationships.”