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The social worker versus the General Social Care Council: an analysis of care standards tribunal hearings and decisions

McLaughlin, Kenneth (2010) The social worker versus the General Social Care Council: an analysis of care standards tribunal hearings and decisions. British journal of social work, 40 (1). pp. 311-327. ISSN 1468-263X

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Abstract

The General Social Care Council (GSCC) is the regulatory body for the social care workforce in England.1 It maintains the Social Care Register and has the power to refuse an applicant entry onto the Register and to instigate proceedings to have those on the Register removed if they deem the social worker in question has committed misconduct. As it is a criminal offence for anyone whose name is not on the Register to call themselves a social worker, the GSCC has extensive powers in relation to the social care workforce. This paper analyses cases in which social workers have been through the GSCC's regulatory process, disagree with the decision and have exercised their right to appeal to the Care Standards Tribunal. Using a critical content analysis, several themes are identified that give cause for concern about the workings of the GSCC, its Committees and the Care Standards Tribunal itself. It is noted that there is an inherent imbalance of power in the proceedings, which heavily favour the GSCC and are detrimental to the social worker's chance of receiving a fair hearing. In addition, areas in which social workers' ‘out of work’ lives have been considered to be within the remit of GSCC investigation and censure are highlighted. It is pointed out that a new morality of appropriate behaviour is being overseen by a government-appointed organization. The findings and areas of concern identified are of particular concern to social workers and social care professionals who find themselves increasingly subject to surveillance and censure by the GSCC. The conclusion considers some key points that require further discussion within social work and indeed the wider political realm.

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