New code means tougher checks for social workers

HR professionals will be obliged to make extensive checks before employing
social workers following the introduction of a new code of practice.

The code is one of two introduced by the newly formed General Social Care
Council to guarantee standards among social workers following the fallout from
the Victoria Climbie scandal.

As part of the new checks, HR departments will have to investigate individuals’
police records before employing new social workers. Under a separate code of
conduct for employees, social workers face being struck off for incompetence or
bad practice.

Social workers will have to agree to the code before being placed on the register
and will face expulsion if they are subsequently found incompetent.

It is hoped that, once struck off, individuals will be unable to find work
elsewhere in the sector.

Alan Mack, head of organisation and staff development at Essex Social
Services, welcomed the move. He said: "The draft codes put a robust
framework in place for the recruitment of staff. It also provides a code of
conduct once you have employed a member of staff and puts us on the same
footing as other professions such as doctors.

"For several years we’ve had safeguards at Essex, but the code will
confirm the process we have in place. It is reassuring that everyone across the
country is working to a consistent framework."

The codes will have a three-month consultation period before being
recommended to ministers and the GSCC will be seeking feedback from employers
and staff.

Lynne Berry, chief executive of the GSCC, said: "It’s very important
that the councils set the right standards of conduct and practice for social
care and services workers and employers."

www.doh.gov.uk/gscc

By Ross Wigham

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